Flexible approaches to training and employment are key to helping the industry recruit and train much-needed new entrants, building long-term resilience in domestic agriculture.
A new report, launched by Lantra at the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) 2024, explains why the use of apprenticeships in agriculture is low, providing a deeper understanding of the barriers that deter farm businesses from taking on an apprentice.
The report, Bringing new entrants into farming, calls for a new approach to widen the uptake of apprenticeships and pilot new approaches, to support small and micro employers meet their business needs.
Based on engagement with over 550 employers and secondary data analysis, Lantra sets out an evidence base for the development of practical and policy interventions to bring new entrants into farming businesses.
Lantra’s Chair of Trustees, Dr David Llewellyn CBE, who was also a member of the Independent Review of Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain, said, “Through our research we found there is a high appetite for apprenticeships on farms but 9 out of 10 employers need help and support. Often first-time employers, these farm businesses are understandably challenged by the recruitment and employment of an apprentice.
‘’The industry would benefit from an intermediary body to take on this burden, helping farmers become effective mentors and ultimately, employers. This approach could de-risk apprenticeships for small and micro employers’’.
A front-loaded apprenticeship programme with work-readiness training including relevant operator certificates will ensure that apprentices are safe and productive from an earlier point in their training.
In addition, Lantra identifies a need for an alternative pathway into farming to meet the needs of small farm businesses.
Llewellyn added, “The academic requirements of apprenticeships (Level 2 English and Maths) are seen as a barrier to entry for many people who are otherwise well-suited to farm work. Learning from best practice in Scotland, an alternative pathway would consist of a 6-month training programme which includes work-readiness training, before the apprentice is placed on a farm. Delivery of such a programme in England, requires a reform of apprenticeship and skills policy.”
Lantra launched its report at an OFC partnership event on Thursday 4th January, where they set out the need for working in partnership with industry and policymakers to widen the uptake of apprenticeships and pilot new approaches.
It is clear, that if farm businesses want to find new staff, they will increasingly need to recruit from a much wider pool. By piloting new approaches in 2024, Lantra plans to bring in new entrants from diverse backgrounds, as well as aid retention and the development of existing workers.