The range of job opportunities in the food and farming sector is huge. Farmers Weekly talks to a machinery service technician to get an insight into the role.
Name Jason Spalding
Job title Service technician
Company Ben Burgess
Sum up your job
I am a mobile service technician for a leading agricultural, construction and garden machinery retailer in East Anglia. I focus on agricultural equipment, making sure machines are serviced and also repaired if problems occur.
What does this involve day-to-day?
Learn and work
Apprenticeships are a way to get hands-on experience of a job, a structured training programme and earn money while you do it.
Apprentices normally work on farm for four days a week and then go to their local college for formal training one day a week.
More than 36,000 applications for farming-related apprenticeships – in agriculture, horticulture and animal care – were made in the sector in 2013-14. This figure represents a ninefold increase since 2010.
They are open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 24 and, depending on your existing qualifications, you can enter at one of three levels: intermediate (Level 2), advanced (Level 3) and higher (Level 4).
The weekly wage for a 16-20 year old on an agricultural apprenticeship is about £145, rising to about £200 an 18-20 year old.
I am usually sent out to a farm first thing in the morning. If our customer has a problem with their tractor, I diagnose the issue and then set to work on fixing it as quickly as possible. This may mean that I need to go back to the depot to collect a part, or it may just be a case of changing a setting in the system. I specialise in equipment made by John Deere, Grimme and Horsch.
What do you enjoy most?
As I work on a range of products, I enjoy the variation and the challenges it brings. I also never know where or what the next job is so it keeps me on my toes.
What’s the downside?
The weather doesn’t always bring sunshine and warmth. Lying in wet, cold muddy conditions in the middle of a field isn’t always the ideal situation.
What percentage of your job is office-based?
On average, probably only 5%. But office-based work varies. Timesheets and job cards need to be completed every day and sometimes I will use product support sites, which mean I am in the office a little more.
What essential skills and qualifications are needed?
I joined Ben Burgess as an apprentice, which meant I studied with John Deere while working for three years, and achieved my land-based technician accreditation. Prior to that, I had my GCSEs and an interest in agriculture.
What experience did you have before starting?
My family works in agriculture and I therefore gained farming knowledge from an early age.
What advice would you give to someone wanting a similar role?
You must be willing to learn and do jobs out of your comfort zone. Also, always listen to senior technicians as their experience can teach you a lot.
Give us an idea of salaries
Apprenticeship schemes are funded by the company and the wages vary as technicians gain more experience and begin to focus on an area of specialism.
Find out about more jobs
You can find further inspiration about the wide range of careers on offer in the food and farming sector on the Bright Crop website.
The website showcase the full range of careers across the sector and asks people who are doing the jobs to talk about what it involved, what they like and even what is not quite as exciting.
Bright Crop’ s mission is to inspire young people to consider careers in food and farming; to inform them of the diverse skills and qualifications needed to succeed and to connect them to a network of passionate industry ambassadors.
While predominantly aimed at people without a farming background – with the aim of changing preconceptions about the industry – the website is also a very useful resource for people with prior knowledge about agriculture.
See more at www.brightcrop.org.uk