The farming sector could see an upsurge in the number of young people keen to pursue careers in it as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
In the past couple of years, we’ve already seen more youngsters – both from farming families and from other backgrounds – drawn to the sector as a result of efforts to promote agriculture and the ancillary industries.
There are some fantastic digital ambassadors out there – young and old – who are highlighting the many upsides of careers in this industry and helping to attract and retain the next generation.
See also: Nine ways to get into farming
But the whole population is waking up to the fact that farming is critical in terms of providing our food and managing our landscapes, and this could prompt more school and college leavers to consider it as a career.
Historically, farmers never shouted about the importance of what they did, they typically just got on with their jobs.
Make sure message is conveyed
Now is a moment, however, when we all have an opportunity – indeed, a duty – to make sure that this message is conveyed to the general public.
Across agriculture and the ancillary industries, we are all responsible for doing this and we should be held accountable for it.
I’ve heard youngsters say their careers advisers or teachers told them not to bother considering farming – a sentiment that makes me feel so sad because there are so many exciting and enjoyable opportunities.
When you’re a farmer you’re not just a farmer, you have to be an accountant, a marketeer, a scientist, a mathematician and a mechanic, to name just five aspects of the job.
This diversity is what makes it so fascinating.
This is one of the reasons why we at Massey Ferguson are so keen to support the Farmers Apprentice 2020 competition, because it is banging the drum for farming, and the tasks on which the contestants will be judged reflect the variety and reality of what roles in our industry are like nowadays.
It also helps to focus on the traits that are necessary to forge successful careers, such as being able to multiskill and multitask – you certainly need to able to think on your feet.
If you’re just starting out, remember there’s no shortcut for hard work. Sometimes people want to go from their first day to manager instantly. It doesn’t work like that. You have to stick with it and believe in yourself. Whatever you do, though, now is a time to be proud of it and tell others about it.
It always jars when I hear people describe what they do by starting with the words “I’m just a…” . There’s no “just a” in agriculture; the whole business is a web of equally important, interconnected, vital roles. I’ve heard youngsters say, for example, that they’re “just a service technician”.
The truth is, the service technician can be the person in a dealership who the customer most wants to deal with and the customer trusts them implicitly, so they’re as important as anyone else in the business.
Farming, like all industries, has tough times, and we’re certainly going through one now.
But in the long term, those who choose to work in it are rewarded many times over by having picked a fulfilling, exciting career.
If there is one positive that comes out of the whole coronavirus tragedy, it could be that fewer people take their food for granted and more appreciate what an important job farming is.
Lindsay Haddon is advertising and sales promotion manager at Massey Ferguson