Welsh college bucks unemployment trend

Farming is bucking the national unemployment trend in Wales with one agriculture college reporting a waiting list of farmers seeking recruits.

According to Gelli Aur College in Carmarthenshire – where student numbers have doubled to 300 in the past five years – virtually every student secures employment after completing their course.

Acting faculty manager, David Davies, reports great demand for young people entering the industry. “It is a very interesting and dynamic time, virtually no students leaving Gelli Aur have no job or further education place to move on to,” he said.

Although foreign labour is currently bridging an employment gap on UK farms, Mr Davies predicted if the current level of interest in agriculture among young people continued, farmers would have the choice of local labour.

“If farmers are looking to employ someone what is the better option long term – to take on someone who is native to the area and has the skills or an unskilled worker who might be with you for three or four years and then goes?” he said.

Partnership with local secondary schools is a reason for the growth in student numbers at Gelli Aur. GCSE pupils have the opportunity to spend time at the college studying for qualifications in basic agriculture.

This provision will move off site next year because the college cannot cope with the numbers. “This programme is beneficial to us because, post-school, a lot of these youngsters will come to us as full-time students,” said David Davies.