Farming is a livelihood that has been around since the beginning of time, and it is just as important today as it was centuries ago. However, there is concern that it is becoming an increasingly unappealing career prospect for young people these days.
With the increase of machinery, the growth of remote working opportunities allowing those in the countryside to join corporate firms more easily, and the tough nature of the job, fewer young farmers are considering making farming their occupation.
However, there are certainly ways to improve the prospects that will encourage the next generation to join farming and keep the industry in the UK thriving.
Paul Harris, writing for Farming Weekly, gives his suggestions to make farming a more appealing and sustainable career choice in the future, including creating well-structured rotas.
One of the biggest deterrents about becoming a farmer is its long hours, having to tend to the land and animals at the crack of dawn and after nightfall. However, Mr Harris said by investing in staff numbers and hiring relief employees, “it is possible to have sensible working hours for most of the year”.
On a similar vein, he suggested current farmers need to change their perspective when it comes to providing their staff with a suitable work-life balance.
“For many years, the farming industry relied heavily on a European labour force that was prepared to work long hours to earn higher wages and salaries than they could in their home countries,” he stated, adding: “The next generation of UK-based staff have a different perspective and farmers need to response to this.”
The managing director of Real Success Ltd also said being active on social media is going to become important over the next years. Therefore, young people might find they can put their technology skills to good use despite working on the land.
Mr Harris noted that the farming sector needs to be more forthright in promoting how it produces food and how it is adhering to environmental and social pressures. To do this, a presence on social media is necessary, which could appeal to the next generation.
“Being active on social media, visible online and ready to ‘talk up’ the industry is not just the responsibility of industry bodies, it’s the responsibility of everyone involved in farming,” he stated.
While older farmers might not be the most adept at creating and updating social networking accounts for their business, this could be something young farmers can embrace. Not only could it make the career more appealing, but it might end up changing the face of farming too.
It is not just young people the industry needs to make sure it attracts, but ladies too. This comes after a report from the Women in Agriculture Taskforce revealed there are still problems of sexism and out-dated attitudes in the industry that create obstacles for females wanting to pursue careers in farming in Scotland. Therefore, a big change in gender equality needs to occur in the industry north of the border.
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