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Lockdown sparks huge spike in applications for farming and fruit-picking jobs

There has been a record demand for farming and fruit-picking jobs during the coronavirus lockdown, according to Totaljobs. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There has been a record demand for farming and fruit-picking jobs during the coronavirus lockdown, according to Totaljobs. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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The coronavirus lockdown has sparked record demand for farming jobs as thousands of out-of-work Brits seek to fill seasonal roles usually carried out by European workers.

The Totaljobs website has reported an 83pc spike in applications for farming and agricultural roles, while searches for “fruit picker” are up 338pc and “farm worker” up 107pc in the last week of March, compared to the last week of February.

Much of that interest has come from people who are temporarily out of work during the lockdown, which has forced the closure of leisure, retail and hospitality businesses.

It comes after the farming industry launched urgent appeals for a new “Land Army” of workers to pick and pack fruit and vegetables as travel restrictions prevent the usual seasonal workforce arriving from countries including Romania and Bulgaria.

Steve Warnham from Totaljobs said: “The UK farming sector has historically suffered from a shortage of seasonal workers, which has only been further exacerbated by recent tightening of immigration rules and the unavailability of staff due to border closures.

“However, under these extraordinary circumstances, we are seeing a growing trend of workers who have been temporarily displaced due to Covid-19 who are now looking for roles they can take on in other sectors to keep Britain moving.

“The increased interest in farming and agricultural role reflects a wider trend that we are seeing across other essential industries including logistics, healthcare and security.”

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