If you tried to add up all the time that’s been spent talking about the problem of attracting new entrants into farming you’d end up with a big headache and, crucially, be no closer to finding a solution.
Like many people and organisations in our industry, Farmers Weekly has spent a huge amount of time and energy wrestling with how we can address the national shortage of people coming into farming – as it stands, 60,000 new entrants are needed in the next 10 years in order to keep British farming thriving.
But our industry doesn’t just need 60,000 people, it needs 60,000 of the right people: switched-on team players with energy, drive, business acumen, patience and commitment. Multi-taskers who are just as comfortable crunching numbers or marketing their latest diversification as they are getting their hands (and everything else) dirty, with all the practical skills needed to keep a farm business operating smoothly every day of the year. It’s a big ask, and it’s where the seeds of the Farmers Apprentice were sown.
The Farmers Apprentice, sponsored by McDonald’s, is our challenge to find 10 young people who embody all the qualities and skills needed to make a success of farming, and who will inspire other young people to seriously consider farming as a desirable and exciting career.
After the initial entry process, we’ll select a line-up of 10 successful applicants to take part in a three-day residential bootcamp at Reaseheath College in Cheshire, where they’ll take on a range of tasks that will test and mentor them in the skills needed to be a successful farmer today – and tomorrow.
We’ll be filming their bootcamp experience from the moment they wake up in the morning to the moment their heads hit the pillow at night, and you’ll be able to follow their progress in a series of six “webisodes” that will be screened online in October.
Applicants could be farmers born and bred who want to broaden their horizons and prove they’ve got what it takes to follow in their parents’ footsteps, but with 60,000 jobs to fill, we’re also extending our search beyond the farmgate. We’ll be scouring towns, cities and suburbs throughout the country to find talented, would-be farmers, who are low on experience but high on passion.
At the end of bootcamp we will have a group of 10 young “apprentices”, each with a unique CV in hand, ready to make their mark on British farming. One overall winner will also take home a £10,000 prize to kick-start their career in agriculture.
We’ve all done the talking, now it’s time for the doing.
How to get involved