Industry leaders commit to measures that will attract more people into farming and growing careers
More than 20 leaders from agriculture and horticulture organisations met at a round-table event in London this week and agreed to collaborate with action from across the industry to attract more people into farming and growing careers.
They say this will allow the sector to compete better in increasingly challenging labour markets and comes as The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture (TIAH) recently carried out research which reveals low awareness and dated perceptions of the farming and growing sector in homes, in schools and among career switchers.
The research, in a report prepared by global research agency ‘Family, Kids and Youth’, revealed that young people, parents and career advisors are unaware of modern farming and growing, technology advances and the broad list of roles and opportunities within the sector.
It also said that there is a “lack of contact”, meaning that many young people don’t have an affiliation with the countryside or knowledge about food and growing and how food gets to plates.
Lord Curry of Kirkharle, who chaired the roundtable, said: “For agriculture and horticulture to thrive, particularly in the face of labour shortages and other changes, we need a diverse range of people. While the industry must make sure that its existing workforce is suitably skilled, it is equally essential that we take the steps needed to attract and welcome new talent.
“The evidence makes it is clear that a long-term, industry-wide effort is needed if we are to achieve this.”
After the roundtable meeting, a framework for action was shared which is based around the following five objectives of Coordination – to develop an industry wide coordinated approach to careers; Collaboration: – to promote ways into farming and growing careers; Change –improve the perception of the agricultural and horticultural sectors and promote opportunities within them to a wider audience; Capacity – update learning resources and link to curriculum and increase in-person contact; Communication – simplify careers messaging to careers seekers and influencers to improve overall impact.
Some suggestions made already include to introduce college courses in urban areas; place media content on platforms relevant to young people such as Tik-Tok; promote farming and growing initiatives in secondary schools, colleges and universities; create apprenticeship and work experience opportunities as well as visits.
TIAH Chair David Fursdon added: “We are extremely heartened by the commitment shown by industry leaders at the roundtable and we will be working together as a group to bring in more support from right across the agriculture and horticulture industry to develop and deliver a plan for action.”
Representatives from Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Careers & Enterprise Company, Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Country Trust, Defra, Farmers Guardian, Food & Drink Sector Council, Horticulture Week, Lantra, Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF), Morgan Sindall, National Careers Service, National Farmers Union (NFU), National Land-based Colleges, NFU Education
National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, Royal Horticultural Society, Tenant Farmers Association, The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture (TIAH) attended Tuesday’s meeting.