The Human Resource Situation in the Hungarian Food Economy

Hamza, Eszter – Rácz, Katalin – Juhász, Anikó – Biró, Szabolcs

Keywords: agriculture, food industry, work force, skills, generation change, Q19

The development of the food economy cannot be based exclusively on technological development, an increase in competitiveness requires employees who are skilled, trainable, adaptable and motivated by higher incomes and social prestige. One of the biggest challenges in the Hungarian food economy is to ensure the adequate number and quality of human resources. Technological development and the spread of knowledge intensive production methods draw attention to the demand for a highly-skilled, precise workforce that is open to innovation. Owing to the diversification of activities, the need for multifunctional human resources that can carry out a wide variety of activities and also have theoretical and practical knowledge, arises particularly at the level of small farms. However, owing to the sectoral specificities, a large flexibly employable, not highly qualified, trainable and motivated seasonal labour force is needed in agriculture and food processing. In this field, the biggest challenge is the labour accuracy, reliability and attitude to work. The importance of changes that have taken place in the support policy and regulatory environment as well as the territorial fragmented agricultural employment defined by macroeconomic and social driving forces is shown by the fact that, as a result of a modest growth over the past years, it could offer a job for nearly 350 thousand people in 2015. Of these, 203.2 thousand were employed in agriculture and forestry and 140.3 thousand people worked in the food industry.
According to the results of our analysis, the continuity of sectoral labour supply would require the development of a training system which is practice-oriented, conveys up-to date knowledge, follows the ongoing technological development in the sector and focuses on management capabilities necessary for farm management. The seasonal labour force demand as a sectoral specificity will require a more flexible accounting system and the use of an ‘annual working time frame’. In order to retain the new entrants and young people in the sector for a longer term, incentives such as increasing salaries, ensuring equity shares and developing a career model would be beneficial.