Farming: Call for agriculture sector to address ‘talent’ shortage

The farming industry needs to do much more to ensure that it can attract a suitable workforce to let it meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

George Jamieson says the sector 'must do better'
George Jamieson says the sector 'must do better'

As Scottish Apprenticeship Week began yesterday, NFU Scotland’s Skills Development Policy Manager George Jamieson warned that against the background of a sector which needed to replace and upskill as much as 70 per cent of its current labour force over the next decade, much more needed to be done to attract new talent.

He said that agriculture would have to compete more effectively for ‘talent’ with other sectors, which he said, at face value, might seem more attractive.

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“Our current report card is ‘must do better,’ as we fail to attract anything like the levels we need in apprenticeships and full-time agriculture courses,” he said adding that for some enterprises, the lack of appropriate staff could be the tipping point for a farming business.

Statistics may be dry and at times self-serving, but there is no ambiguity about the fact that the farming sector must attract and support the next generation of farmers and staff, and this will depend on genuine proactive collaboration between stakeholders and a much more strategic effort from farmers and, very importantly, the entire food supply chain.

“This is a plea to all farmers, to consider the urgency of our situation, and become more proactive in offering support, in whatever means suits your circumstances and skillset, to new entrants into the sector.”

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