Move to increase work experience in farming and growing

Move to increase work experience in farming and growing

A new initiative is being launched during National Work Experience Week 2023 (24-28 April), to encourage agriculture and horticulture businesses to increase work experience opportunities for people from outside the industry. ​
Jhunjun Salas, head herdsman at Saltby Dairy Unit, with Jess Morgan and Ellie Brown.
Jhunjun Salas, head herdsman at Saltby Dairy Unit, with Jess Morgan and Ellie Brown.
Jhunjun Salas, head herdsman at Saltby Dairy Unit, with Jess Morgan and Ellie Brown.
Jhunjun Salas, head herdsman at Saltby Dairy Unit, with Jess Morgan and Ellie Brown.

The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture (TIAH); AHDB; the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, Lantra; LEAF; National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs; Country Trust; the National Farmers Union; and the Tenant Farmers Association have identified that a lack of quality work experience opportunities is one of the barriers young people face when considering a career in our industry, especially when they're not from a farming or growing background.  

The organisations are now working together to address this. During National Work Experience Week, a social media campaign will raise farmers’ and growers’ awareness of providing work experience. This year, further work will take place to seek employer feedback to identify the common barriers to offering work experience and develop materials to support more farmers and growers. 

Their efforts are part of a wider cross-industry careers action plan coordinated by TIAH and supported through the cross industry working group to attract more people into farming and growing careers. 

New talent

Richard Longthorp is a Yorkshire farmer, TIAH Board member and Chair of the careers working group. He said: “The agriculture and horticulture industry needs to attract new talent. Research shows that we must make closer connections with people from outside the industry by providing first-hand experience of the range of opportunities available. There are already great initiatives promoting careers, but not only is there a gap when it comes to giving people the chance to really understand what these jobs involve, there's also more opportunity for the different organisations to work together. 

“There are very valid reasons why farmers and growers may be hesitant to offer work experience – they might be short of time or staff to support someone, concerned about health and safety, or simply worry about having someone inexperienced on farm. But offering work experience provides farmers and growers an ideal opportunity to showcase our individual businesses and our industry, and is likely to provide a more sustainable and resilient alternative to more traditional methods of recruitment. Working together as an industry, we have a greater chance of breaking down barriers and supporting businesses to provide a quality experience for potential recruits.” 

Gaynor Wellwood and her husband Kieran are dairy farmers in Saltby, Leicestershire, who have a long-term commitment to offering work experience to both veterinary and agricultural students on their farm.  

Variety of skills

Gaynor said, “We began to support work experience students on our farm because we wanted to inspire the next generation of farmers and vets. We have two students on the unit at any one time. We wanted to ensure that they understood the huge variety of skills and challenges on the farm from a working farmer's perspective. 

‘Offering work experience has benefited the business because we have found that students who have a positive work experience may return during or after they've completed their studies, which eases recruitment in the long term. Additionally, we've found that having students on the farm creates fresh enthusiasm to the ‘home – team’ as they enjoy meeting the young people and working with them.” 

Organisations and businesses who would like to support any aspect of the careers action plan, including the work experience initiative, are invited to contact TIAH Careers Manager Ruth Peterson at [email protected]

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