Vets are being urged to apply for meat export inspection jobs in Wales to meet the demand for their services and address the country’s shortfall in applicants.

There is currently an increase in the number of veterinary job listings but a lack of qualified vets applying, with Wales the worst affected.

England and Wales veterinary services provider Eville & Jones says it has more than 30 vacancies for roles in Wales, including area managers, export vets, certification support officers and meat hygiene inspectors.

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There are about 2,000 vacant roles in the veterinary sector every year, but only 900 vets graduate from approved universities – which now include the new School of Veterinary Science at Aberystwyth University.

Vets from within the EU have usually plugged the shortfall, but since Brexit, a visa requirement to meet a high standard of English has meant fewer foreign workers are arriving.

Brexit also means products such as meat and fish need to be examined to obtain export health certificates, increasing the demand for qualified staff to manage the extra checks.

Challenges

Charles Hartwell, chief executive of Eville & Jones, said that since Brexit it had been a challenge to recruit vets due to the rule changes.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons requires vets to meet a high standard of English – “level 7”, compared with “level 4.1” which is required for a skilled work visa.

Mr Hartwell said: “There will be huge challenges with exporting meat to international partners due to the number of official veterinarians required to sign off inspections, if these shortages aren’t remedied soon.

“We are calling for qualified vets to seriously think about applying for a role within veterinary public health in Wales, which arguably provides a greater work-life balance than working with companion animals and plays a crucial role in ensuring food production levels can be maintained and checked safely.”

Farm vet survey

Look out for the results of the Farmers Weekly survey on the challenges being faced by farm vets in the Business and Livestock pages of next week’s edition (Friday, 22 October).