More than half of Scottish land-based job vacancies in the next five years will require advanced technical and commercial skills, a survey by Lantra, the sector skills council, has found.
Lantra forecast as many as 30,000 people could be required in Scotland to fill vacancies in the land-based, environmental and aquaculture industries workforce, by 2020.
Of those jobs up to 13,000 vacancies are predicted to be for skilled trade occupations and a further 3,000 for managerial or commercial roles.
National director for Lantra in Scotland, William Fergusson, said: “The demand for technical and commercial skills has risen sharply over the past five to 10 years. We are seeing demand for more advanced technical skills in animal handling, disease identification, control and bio-security as standards in animal health and welfare increase.”
Mr Fergusson added: “The growing need for food security and continuity of supply requires new agronomy and intensive farming methods requiring advanced technical skills in the operation of machinery, automation systems, robotics and information and communications technology to boost productivity.
“Higher standards in food quality, traceability and quality assurance are also demanding greater commercial knowledge from supply chain management to sales and marketing and risk management.”
“For example, the dairy owner needs to have greater commercial nous and new business development skills which includes the ability to find and recruit the right people. New entrants to the sector need to have the capacity to work in a highly technical environment.”
Gary Mitchell, NFU Scotland milk committee chairman
Dairy farmer and NFU Scotland milk committee chairman Gary Mitchell also said that the agriculture industry was undergoing a technical transformation.
“Over the years there has been a change from family-run dairy farms to large scale commercial operations. These large dairy farms require employers and employees to have a whole new set of business and technical skills,” Mr Mitchell said.
“For example, the dairy owner needs to have greater commercial nous and new business development skills which includes the ability to find and recruit the right people. New entrants to the sector need to have the capacity to work in a highly technical environment.
“There has been a rapid growth in the adoption of ‘Automatic Milking Systems’ requiring high-level information communications technology and technical skill sets. New entrants must also have a business mindset to succeed in the sector. As with any business it’s largely about making a profit and new entrants need to make a significant contribution.”