As Scottish Apprenticeship Week kicked off yesterday, NFU Scotland’s Skills Development Policy Manager George Jamieson warned that in the context of a sector that needs to replace and upgrade up to 70% of its current workforce over the next decade, much more needed to be done to attract new talent.
He said agriculture should compete more effectively for “talent” with other sectors, which he said at first glance might seem more attractive.
“Our current bulletin is ‘must do better’ because we are failing to attract anything like the levels we need in full-time agriculture apprenticeships and courses,” he said, adding that for some businesses, the lack of suitable staff could be the tipping point for an agricultural business.
“The statistics can be dry and sometimes self-serving, but there is no ambiguity that the agricultural sector needs to attract and support the next generation of farmers and staff, and that will depend on real proactive collaboration. between stakeholders and a much more strategic effort by farmers and, very importantly, the whole food supply chain.
“This is a call to all farmers to consider the urgency of our situation and to become more proactive in offering support, in whatever way appropriate to your circumstances and skills, to new entrants into the area.”