Select Page

People who work in horticulture, bakeries, fish and poultry factories have been recommended for a list of jobs which are hard to fill in Northern Ireland.

It follows representations from the executive of the importance of agri-food to the economy.

Workers have been put on a Shortage Occupation List meaning they attract 20 points under new immigration rules.

Inclusion on the list means the minimum salary requirement is set at £20,840.

People wishing to work in the UK need 70 points to apply.

Other factors such as a job offer from a sponsoring employer, a certain salary threshold and the ability to speak English help gain points.

There was also good news for the fishing industry, with confirmation that trawler deckhands have been reclassified and are now eligible to apply as skilled workers.

Access to foreign crews after Brexit has long been a concern of the NI fishing industry, where 53% of crew are from a non-UK background.

Chick sexers have also been added to the skilled worker list, which is likely to be welcomed by Northern Ireland’s poultry industry.

2px presentational grey line

What is a ‘chick sexer’?

It’s a job with an eye-catching name, an impressive salary – but apparently not enough people willing to take it up.

‘Chick sexer’ has been added to the skilled worker list, which will make it easier for people to move to Northern Ireland to take up the role.

As the name suggests, chick sexers are responsible for checking the sex of chicks, and do so by looking inside a bird’s anus to see if they are male or female.

Back in 2015, the British Poultry Council said it was struggling to recruit enough workers, and that the job came with a salary of £40,000.

Farmers need to check whether chicks are male or female so they can be sorted and reared appropriately, with the males used to provide meat and the hens to lay eggs.

2px presentational grey line

The recommendations have been made by the Migration Advisory Committee – a non-departmental body which advises government on migration.

It was told that employers in agri-food in Northern Ireland faced particular difficulties because they had been competing with cross border companies which would still have unrestricted access to EU labour.

The committee was told that UK workers did not want to take jobs in fish and poultry companies, which required working “unsociable hours in adverse conditions” – and those sectors were reliant on migrant labour.

Salaries in these sectors were low and employers said tight profit margins would make it impossible for them to meet salary requirements for entry.