Farmers lack skills for new jobs

15 May 2001

Farmers lack skills for new jobs

By FWi staff

FARMERS lack the skills to benefit from plans to broaden the rural economy in the wake of foot-and-mouth, claim rural economy experts.

The Countryside Agency, the governments rural development body, wants to reduce dependence on farming and tourism, reports the Financial Times.

Real growth in rural employment has been in the service sector, fuelled by commuting and retirement boosting the rural population.

But Stephen Fothergill, professor of regional development at Sheffield Hallam University and Mark Shucksmith, rural development expert at Aberdeen University say farmers are not well-placed to benefit.

Skills acquired in farming are not best suited to jobs such as shopworkers, teachers or health visitors, they argue.

“Milking is a highly-skilled task but its not exactly a transferable skill, Mr Shucksmith told the FT.

In the seven years to 1998 service employment in English rural districts rose by 527,000 to 3,490,000.

The number of people working in farming and fishing fell 98,000 to 445,000.

Countryside Agency director David Coleman admitted that there was “a real skills gap” and it was often incomers who set up new rural businesses.


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