The next generation see the seafood industry as low skilled and unexciting, leaving seafood businesses struggling to recruit fresh, young talent.
Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, is calling for the industry to prioritise attracting young people to jobs in the sector, following research which highlighted a number of misconceptions that are currently putting them off.
To better understand attitudes and the barriers that exist, Seafish commissioned research to find out what young people (between the ages of 16 and 18) thought about careers in the seafood sector. The findings make for worrying reading as many of those who took part thought the industry only offered limited career prospects and that friends would make fun of them for working with fish.
The research has informed a new practical guide, designed to help seafood businesses understand what they can do to attract young people. It builds upon The World is Your Oyster campaign which Seafish launched in 2015 to appeal to young jobseekers and highlight the benefits of working in the seafood industry. Seafish is now encouraging seafood businesses to use the updated campaign materials to support recruitment. The free materials, which include a film, infographics and seafood career maps, are also available to schools and colleges.
There has been a recent push to shine the light on some of the inspirational young people already working in the industry through the Young Seafood Leaders Network, run by Seafish, and various industry awards for Young Fisherman of the Year, Young Seafood Chefs of the Year, Young Fishmonger of the Year and Young Fish Frier of the Year. However, the seafood industry is still struggling to attract young talent across the board. This impact of this is potentially even greater for pockets of the industry that rely quite heavily on EU labour with uncertainty around Brexit still on the horizon.
Marcus Coleman, CEO at Seafish, said: “We were already aware of some issues around attracting young jobseekers to seafood careers, but this research has highlighted the misconceptions and perceived barriers that we need to overcome to win over the next generation of talent. It includes a lot of valuable insights which we’ve used to inform a new practical guide for industry that’s full of recruitment advice.
“As a collective seafood industry, we need to shine a light on the positive stories and show young people that it’s possible to carve out an exciting and rewarding career. We need to shout about all the different jobs that are available and the fact that seafood careers can offer young people a chance to travel the world, to become a leader or own a business. With this in mind, we’ve also updated our The World is Your Oyster campaign materials and made them freely available to help get these key messages out.
“Our seafood industry is thriving but we can’t afford to be complacent - it’s vital that we attract young people who can bring so much energy and insight and keep it vibrant for years to come.”