Today I want to mention career prospects in food and farming as barely a day goes by when we don’t hear about the dire state of the economy and the lack of job prospects, especially for young people. As a country, we do continue to bump along a continual trough of the economic cycle and for many people things really are tough. Over the last thirty or so years, the UK economy has largely been built on the very successful service and financial sectors, with little regard given to either manufacturing or agriculture. Now I think it is fair to say that everyone agrees there needs to be a bit of rebalancing in UK plc if we are to ensure future success.
People are beginning to appreciate that Britain does have a successful manufacturing industry, whilst not big enough we do make products to be proud of that the rest of the world want to buy. This is an industry that requires people at all levels and is busy recruiting. The same can be said for agriculture and the food supply industries, which have undergone a complete turnaround in fortunes over the last twenty years.
When I first came back to the farm, the world was awash with food that no one wanted, whilst Government saw agriculture as a backward industry, in decline, that should be used solely to provide the role of national park keeper for society. Agricultural colleges and universities closed down due to lack of interest, the industry was on its knees financially, and public perception was at an all time low. Today the world is a lot different place, with a growing global population which can afford food, in addition to other non-food resources the industry can provide, there has never been a better time for people to look at a career in food and farming.
Currently, there are around 476,000 people employed on farms in the UK. Farming and the food supply industry grows around 70% of the food we eat, manage over 80% of Britain’s land, it is worth £10bln a year and if you were to add in the supporting industries the figure increases substantially. An extra 60,000 jobs will be created in the next ten years. 98% of graduates from land-based degree courses go directly into careers.
Not everyone is aware of the great potential for future careers. However, job roles encompass everything from farming to finance, research, robotics, environment, policy, veterinary as well as design, media, marketing and much more. Additionally, it is far from being a male-dominated industry, as plenty of very successful females at all levels will testify. Whilst some schools and career advisers still think of the industry as a last ditch option for students, there are plenty of colleges and universities who would be happy to show how this is not the case. There are other useful organizations giving impartial advice such as LANTRA at www.lantra.co.uk/careers . Or a new joint industry initiative called Bright Crop which is due to go live later this year www.brightcrop.org.uk .
If you or someone you know is considering what they might want to do for a future career, why not take a look at what food and farming has to offer.