20 November 1998

Call for the right skills

GETTING the right people with the right skills involved in agriculture at a young age is crucial if the industry is to prosper.

That was the message farmer Jim Bryce gave the RASE/Strutt & Parker Young Perspectives conference at Stoneleigh last week.

"The biggest threat to UK farming is a lack of skill of the people farming." While this is changing – about a fifth of those in the business now have a relevant training – more should be done.

On-going training and top-up courses are also vital, said Mr Bryce. Management courses were time well spent. "The most important tool is probably not the welder or the parlour or the shiny new tractor – but it is the calculator and an accurate set of records."

Farmers were not getting the best advice from the ancillary industries, either, with top graduates from agricultural colleges lured in to other industries by the prospect of better salaries.

"Money may not be the only motivator – but having enough to survive is crucial."

Consultants, land agents and machinery companies should, therefore, redress the "disproportionate" gap between salary levels at the top of the firm and the new-starter level, he said.

"Good advice is priceless; bad advice is worthless. And we are lacking the very best advice." &#42