The post-Brexit era and the impact of Covid-19 have caused many people across the country to question their careers and work-life balance.
Some have chosen to continue working from home, turning their backs on long, busy and uncomfortable commutes.
Many have turned to the countryside to look fresh and a new perspective on their lives and are now looking for new careers and opportunities. So why don’t they choose to work in agriculture?
Human resources consultant Paul Harris of Real Success discusses four potential misconceptions from people outside the agriculture industry and examines how farmers can overcome them.
See also: How to reduce staff hours on dairy farms
1. Working conditions in agriculture are dirty, dangerous and depressing
If you are working with cattle, yes it can be messy. But that doesn’t have to be the only impression we make.
Cleanliness is not impossible to achieve, and while a sparkling parlor doesn’t impress the cows, it does instill a sense of pride in the team.
If you also provide corporate clothing, a washing and drying facility, and a safe and pleasant place to take a break, agriculture can compete with alternative industries.
Ignoring health and safety rules because you don’t believe in wearing helmets on quads doesn’t make you an attractive prospect for a school leaver with an anxious parent.
So, consider good working conditions and a safe farm as top priorities.
2. The working hours are too long and you never take time off on weekends
Important business choices such as reducing the number of drafts per day by hiring more staff, it is possible to create a more regular and manageable working model which may be more attractive to UK workers.
If you are treating three times a day, the evening or night shift is often the most unpopular.
You can alternate rotations so that the night shift isn’t the only shift you offer someone. Flexible working can also provide people with free time during the day.
You could offer incentives for less sociable shifts, such as extra time off, or just take a lighter approach to working evenings and weekends.
3. Agriculture is for the poorly educated
Agriculture offers an abundance of opportunities for those with a scientific or technical mind, as well as for animal husbandry or machinery.
“On the job” training in agriculture is far superior to that in many other industries and there is room to develop your skills on a farm and associated industries.
Does your farm participate in Open Farm Sunday? Do you offer to speak at career evenings? Have you spoken to principals of schools and colleges in your area and offered to have an open house where they can bring students to see what’s going on on a farm?
4. The only way to become a farmer is if your family already owns a farm or has a rental.
The vast majority who work in agriculture work for someone else, as in all other industries. And it can be one of the best paid industries to work for.
If you drop out of school or university, you can be provided with housing, which means you have no rent or mortgage.
An experienced shepherd or farm worker can usually make £ 25,000-30,000 / year (or more), but if you add the ‘value’ of mortgage or rent payments it can easily add another £ 10,000-15,000 to a package.
For example, an employee, often young, could earn the equivalent of £ 35,000 to £ 45,000 / year. It’s ahead of many industries.
If you work in the industry for a while and save some of your income, then you could invest those savings in goods or cows.
You could possibly consider contract farming agreements and other ways to partially invest in a farm.
All of us who work in agriculture need to talk about how farming offers a safe, challenging and well-paying career where the training is extensive, the opportunities for advancement are vast, and the lifestyle can be exactly. what many have aspired to in the last 18 months of the pandemic.
Farmers should “talk” about our industry rather than being seen as cranky individuals who constantly complain.
It is too easy to blame governments, the NFU and the AHDB for not promoting our industry to young people, UK workers and people outside the industry.
It is time for all of us to take a big step forward and make this problem our own.
Paul Harris is the Managing Director of Real Success – a human resources consulting firm which helps the agricultural sector to improve personnel management. A regular speaker at industry events, Mr. Harris is widely recognized as a thought leader and positive advocate for workforce development in the agriculture sector.