One of the country’s largest seasonal labour recruitment organisations, Concordia, is helping to draft thousands of additional overseas staff for the government’s Seasonal Worker Pilot Schemes (SWPL), in a bid to ensure that some of the UK’s leading supermarkets are stocked for Christmas. The project is bolstered by Concordia’s partnership with e-current account provider Unizest, who will set up overseas workers, coming to the UK to plug key labour shortages, with access to a mobile app through which they can track and manage their money, receive wages and pay for bills and services.
Concordia has been contracted by the government to provide seasonal labourers for two of the UK’s leading grocery retailers, as well as businesses that provide winter poultry for the festive season, and one of the UK’s leading haulage companies. Concordia is a government trusted recruiter of seasonal labour for the horticultural and agricultural industries, and successfully coordinated the 2019 and 2020 Seasonal Worker Pilot Schemes (SWPL) led by the Home Office.
As part of the current scheme, the government has made an extra 5,500 visas available for overseas workers to help process winter poultry in the run up to the Christmas period. An additional 5,000 temporary visas have also been made available for HGV drivers serving the food and fuel sectors.
The extension to the scheme is in response to shortages of workers across a number of industries in the UK, which is set to impact the availability of festive produce on supermarket shelves. The chairman of the British Poultry Council recently warned of shortages of 16% across the industry workforce, whilst the Road Haulage Association estimates a shortage of 100,000 haulage drivers.
The requirements for opening a UK high street bank account often means that overseas workers experience difficulty in accessing a basic banking service that allows them to receive their wages and pay necessary bills. That’s why Concordia has partnered with Unizest – the app based e-current account designed to help ease the process of getting a bank account for new arrivals to the UK.
Promoting financial inclusion for overseas workers
The Migration Observatory has shown that non-UK nationals are more likely to have temporary, zero hour contracts, and more likely to engage in shift work, than UK nationals. The migrant pay gap, and a lack of access to proper banking solutions, leaves overseas workers vulnerable to poor working practices, labour exploitation and modern slavery.
Simon Bowyer, Chief Executive Officer at Concordia, explains; “We’re increasingly recruiting a younger, more technologically aware workforce from across the world. Access to a high tech solution such as Unizest means that from day one, Concordia can ensure that our sponsored international staff will be set up with an e-current account.
“Without proper means of accessing and managing their money, workers are otherwise left vulnerable as it is difficult to process their pay. With Unizest supporting the overseas workers coming to the UK over the festive season, we know even before they leave their home countries that they are set up and ready to go with an e-current account. Together we’re pulling in the same direction to ensure that the process of coming to the UK to work is painless, easy and most importantly, safe.”
“We aim to create the best start for people arriving in the UK for work. Agricultural workers and haulage drivers coming from overseas fill a crucial gap in the UK’s economy and industry recovery,” explains Tony Shawcross, Chief Commercial Officer at Unizest.
“The people coming to the UK in the coming weeks and months are doing important and skilled work that will help ensure that more stock is on supermarket shelves in the run up to Christmas. We’re delighted to play a small part in this work by providing e-current accounts to the people who come to the UK via Concordia’s seasonal workers programme, and we hope to make their transition to life in the UK as smooth as possible.”