Finding new farming recruits ‘going to get tougher’ says EDGE

Mark Last, Nicola Currie (EDGE) Bradley Leist and Robert Rous

Mark Last, Nicola Currie (EDGE) Bradley Leist and Robert Rous - Credit: Archant

Finding the next generation of farm recruits will be a challenge, an apprenticeship body has warned.

The sector needs to fill a predicted 242,000 vacancies over the next decade, said EDGE.

“The average age of our industry’s workforce is one of the highest in the country and as we compete with other industries, finding the right young people is only going to get tougher,” warned former Country Land and Business Association eastern regional director Nicola Currie, who has just taken up a new role as EDGE apprenticeships employer liaison officer, working with FramFarmers.

Suffolk Agricultural Association chairman Robert Rous said attracting the right young people was “essential” for the future of the industry.

Schools need more support to be able to promote these careers to young people, she said.

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“Business managers budget meticulously for inputs and capital expenditure but rarely worry about where they will find new staff until they start the recruitment process. Through modern apprenticeship schemes managers can grow their own staff and young people have the opportunity to train without having to take out student loans –it’s a win win situation.”

EDGE Apprenticeships in Food & Farming is an industry-led scheme that aims to educate, develop, grow and employ young people, equipping them with the skills they need to succeed.

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EDGE have collaborated with a number of different businesses, across the land based sector, to recruit over 410 young apprentices. EDGE works with schools and colleges to find the best young people and match them with the right employer. It also supports employers to help them recruit the apprentice who is right for them and their business.

“Our industry needs capable young people to fill a predicted 242,000 vacancies over the next decade,” said Richard Anscombe, chief executive of Fram Farmers. “It’s vital we tackle this challenge now which is why Fram Farmers are supporting the EDGE Project and are delighted to be working with someone of Nicola’s breadth of expertise and experience.”

EDGE is already working closely with Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA).

SAA chairman Robert Rous said: “Attracting the right young people is essential for the future of our industry which is why the SAA is supporting EDGE both at our Schools Farms Fair and our Students Career Day. We have two EDGE apprentices here at Dennington Hall Farms, Mark Last and Bradley Leist. They are enthusiastic about farming and are steadily becoming invaluable members of our team. It is very satisfying to be bringing new recruits into farming and to see them enjoy their work.”

The EDGE web site includes sections for both employers and students as well as video case studies from young people who have already been placed by EDGE.

EDGE Apprenticeships in Food & Farming is an industry-led scheme which is supported by £1.4million of co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

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