Great opportunities exist for young people looking to work in farming – but they need to make sure they “stand out from the crowd”, according to Madge Moore, Lantra’s national director for England.
More people are looking at agriculture and the environment as a career opportunity, but employers are demanding ever-more skills, she said at the agriculture and rural affairs forum at the YFC AGM in Blackpool, Lancashire.
As well as practical aptitude, candidates need to show they have a can-do attitude, the ability to communicate well, that they’re flexible and that they can turn up on time.
“You’ve also got to be prepared to do some of the less glamorous jobs before wanting to drive that £250,000 combine.”
Agricultural colleges are “bursting at the seams” compared with a few years ago when many were threatened with closure, but there are still misconceptions and those who are offering careers advice in schools don’t know what the job involves.
“It’s still a real barrier to break down,” said Ms Moore. “It can be a good package, especially once you take into account the house, vehicle and fuel on top of the basic rate.
“The farmworker is a multi-tasker these days – a skilled operator, a technician. It’s a varied job, they’ll know how to weld, but they’ll also know how a computer works. Another day they might be running self-propelled sprayers putting on thousands of pounds worth of agrochemicals.”
Robert Smith, Essex YFC county president
“If employers get the right person, then often they’ll be prepared to train and develop them,” she added.
The old perception that there is no career in farming is wrong, said Essex YFC county president Robert Smith.
The traditional image of the “general farm worker” as a bit of a “clodhopper” is also completely out-dated, he added.
“The farmworker is a multi-tasker these days – a skilled operator, a technician. It’s a varied job, they’ll know how to weld, but they’ll also know how a computer works. Another day they might be running self-propelled sprayers putting on thousands of pounds worth of agrochemicals.
“You don’t necessarily need a university degree,” added Mr Smith. “There’s a happy medium. You need the three Rs, but you need to be able to work things out and you need to be able to think.”
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