Thankfully, in our sectors, things have turned out much better than anyone watching the doom and gloom-laden nightly news bulletins could have imagined.
In my experience, businesses and business people operating in the food and land-based sectors are a pretty resilient lot. To survive in the UK market over the past 30 years or so, they've had to become fairly lean and mean so there's not been much fat to trim off unlike some we could mention in the finance and banking sectors. In 2009, we always felt we were seeing more of a case of battening down the hatches to weather the storm rather than any wholesale abandoning of ships. But over 2010, many of our clients started to return to more 'normal' patterns of behaviour.
So what do we expect 2011 to bring? Well, hopefully, continuing signs of improvement in the economy and therefore more confidence all round. This may drive an increase in recruitment. More importantly, it should also mean business will start to plan for the long term and provide realistic training and development budgets.
When times get tough, the first thing that gets the chop is the training budget. Often, those same businesses are crying out for new skills and bemoaning the dearth of talent coming forward to work in food, agriculture and horticulture. As they say "you reap what you sow", so despite the difficulties and the need at times for short-term fixes, we can't forget to plan for the future. Consequently, it was a pleasure to read Justin King's Saturday Essay in The Grocer just before Christmas encouraging all businesses within the food sector to "demonstrate their commitment to improving skills and developing the next generation of talent". He is bang on with his comments and has been a great ambassador for the food sector as president of the IGD.
He also mentioned the need for us all to work harder as an industry to attract the high-calibre young people to nurture and mould into the industry stars of the future. We work across the entire food industry from primary producer to retailer and can honestly say that no one element of that chain has got this one right.
For years I have encouraged colleagues and clients to be more proactive in working with schools and colleges.
One of my mantras has always been 'adopt your local school'. It might seem the ultimate in long-range planning but it's a great way of boosting your image and that of the industries you represent.
Guy Moreton is director of recruitment practitioner MorePeople.