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How to overcome the challenges posed by millennial's to Britain’s agricultural job market

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A significant proportion of young people in the UK are interested in working in the agricultural sector, but their career aspirations are quite striking, if not surprising. Notably, most job seekers within this age group are more intent on job security and work-life balance.

As the global employment arena continues to change, due to technological advancement, the shifts in cultures across ages have also disrupted occupations. Each generation has its own perspectives and values of the world founded on their life experiences. These nuances give each generation unique work ethics, values and preferred styles of managing or being managed.

What's causing these changes?

At the heart of these changes are millennials. Millennials entering the job market are ambitious, have high expectations, and come with specific requirements. The situation is no different in agricultural jobs. While the challenge of recruiting talent for the farming sector isn’t new, the changing dynamics of millennials has exacerbated the situation.

According to a report by KPMG titled “Meet the Millennials”, published in 2017, firms must understand their existing workforce demographic if they are to recruit and retain top talent. The lead author, Sitara Kurian, posits that millennials “currently comprise 35 per cent of the UK’s workforce and are set to represent 50 per cent of the global workforce by 2020.”

The report further clarifies that: “They bring wants and needs which differ greatly to those that came before them and hold more bargaining power than ever before in the labour market place.” In light of the peculiarities of millennials, how can companies lure them into employment and retain them?

Sitara Kurian clearly explains that: “Companies need to be aware of how to move that power in their favour, alluring them with the right selling points and plying them with the right perks to make them stick around and stop them jumping ship.”

Filling agricultural jobs in the UK

Faced with the effects of Brexit and its implications on labour sourcing, as well as the challenges of a skills shortage, companies need to address certain fundamental issues affecting millennials to fill agricultural jobs in the UK.

According to an AHDB paper published in January 2018, the UK agricultural sector has not been proactive in providing training platforms for its staff. The article says: “British farmers and growers under-invest in new skills and training relative to their competitors.”

Disappointingly, this reality is further complicated by poor public perception of agriculture.

As an industry, agriculture has been very poor in marketing the available opportunities. Generally, most players have remained static.

So, what is the way forward? Well, recruiters must find ways of recruiting the best talent while also finding a way to deter their existing employees from switching jobs across industries. Just like other industries struggling to attract and retain the brightest talent, the agricultural sector must also seek ways of ensuring that skilled professionals remain in the industry. So, industry players must find a way of recruiting the best, while acknowledging the needs and wants of their recruits.

Creating demand

The solution lies in encouraging the uptake of skills on the farm; farmers should acquire new skills. On the other hand, employers should respond to the dynamics of technology to identify training opportunities that will enable them to track and strategise on career development pathways.

Introducing a GSCE in agriculture

The UK government is beginning to acknowledge the need to accommodate a new skill set and workforce. In January 2019, MP Julian Sturdy initiated a debate in parliament calling on the UK government to introduce a GCSE in agriculture. Earlier on, DEFRA Secretary of State Michael Gove had also made similar sentiments.

Calls for a GCSE in agriculture point to a recognition that for a more sustainable food security situation in the UK, the country must have a continuous workforce that suits the skills prevalent in modern agriculture. With Brexit on the pipeline, the skills gap challenge may get worse. Also, Britain cannot afford to rely on outside labour to sustain its agriculture. Instead, it has to adopt an inward-looking approach to its agricultural problems. This calls more young people into the industry with an assurance of career progress.

A GSCE in agriculture will prepare students for a fulfilling career in agriculture, while also supporting the industry by offering a larger pool of young, educated and skilled workers to fill the skills gap. With the agricultural sector facing skill gaps in technical staff, middle managers, general managers, and seasonal labour, this may not be a short-term undertaking.

Adoption of technology

To entice millennials into agriculture, companies must start talking about the technology used and the numerous opportunities created by it. Agriculture provides several high skill occupations, such as agricultural engineer jobs, that can lure millennials if they are made aware of what they entail.

Instead of focussing on traditional agriculture as a poster child for the UK agriculture sector, young people should learn about using GPS-powered drones and tractors. Also, school-aged children need to visit large agricultural players such as JCB or John Deere to learn more about agricultural machinery jobs.

Using an enticing job culture

Millennials are always on the lookout for the next job in the market, and they will always look at the experience portrayed working in an agricultural company. The job culture represented will, therefore, guide them on whether to apply for a job in agriculture or seek jobs in other industries. Employers must, therefore, learn to portray employment in the agricultural sector in a manner that lures millennials.

Career progression

Millennials live on the fast lane of life. If they don’t see any chances of progressing, they will quickly bolt. Having clearly defined career paths in the agricultural sector provides young people with the impetus of remaining in their current industry as they pursue growth.

Job security

We are living in the age of job outsourcing and artificial intelligence. Millennials want jobs that assure them of security. Agricultural firms must create jobs that provide them with some sense of security.

Work-life balance

Millennials love to enjoy their time by balancing work and leisure. Anything boring is not attractive to them. Therefore, agricultural jobs should offer millennials good working terms that allow them to have time for leisure and relaxation.

If you are looking for a new job or to progress your career, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk

Alternatively, if you are a client looking to expand your team, whilst using a professional recruitment / headhunting solution, then please call us today on 01905 345155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk