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What’s Best about Pig, Poultry Production to Attract Best Staff

20 May 2013

UK - Pig and Poultry producers are being urged to become ambassadors for their sectors as part of an initiative to recruit more young people and avoid an impending gap in skills and knowledge.

David Yiend, Chief Executive of AB Agri, parent company of event partners ABN told visitors at Pig & Poultry LIVE, the innovative industry conference tackling the biggest issues facing the sectors, that producers had to promote what was best about their businesses if they wanted children to consider careers in pig and poultry production.

Addressing more than 650 delegates at the one-day event at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on Wednesday (15 May), Mr Yiend said the perception of agriculture in schools needed to be improved if the industry was to move forward.

“Agriculture is viewed poorly in schools, with 64 per cent of children saying they wouldn't consider it as a career.

“This has to be addressed if the pig and poultry sectors are to get the high calibre, skilled workers it needs to develop.”

Mr Yiend said more investment needed to be made in promoting jobs in agriculture, and urged farmers to get involved with schemes like Bright Crop - an initiative aimed at raising the profile of food and farming careers to children.

Supported by organisations including Natural England, HSBC, AIC, Bayer, British Sugar and NFU Mutual, Bright Crop has already raised £250,000 to help promote the sector to school children.

“The army spends £100m a year on promoting the army to schools. If food and farming wants to attract the best talent we have to be prepared to invest time and money.

“We need farmers to do their bit and get involved,” he added. “We want 1000 ambassadors going around schools talking about the industry, as well as case studies to use as role models.

“We need to shout out what is special about our businesses, otherwise we can?t expect people to want to join them.”

Promoting careers in the pig and poultry sector was just one of the topics tackled during the session on „people? at the Royal Agricultural Society of England event, run in partnership with ABN. Attracting and retaining staff was a subject identified by pig and poultry producers as one of the major challenges facing their businesses.

John Ryan of Great Place to Work said while attracting staff was part of the battle, retaining talented staff by creating a workplace people wanted to be part of was also something producers should focus on.

“Creating trust by building a workplace culture built on credibility, respect and fairness is key,” he told delegates.

“You want to create an environment where people can realise their talents and feel appreciated. Supporting people and helping them build their ideas will help people feel an important part of the business and encourage them to strive to help meet your goals.”

Delegates also heard from other farm businesses who were using innovative techniques to retain valuable staff and develop their talents.

Marion Regan of Hugh Lowe Farms Ltd in Kent said she strived to drive an atmosphere of respect amongst her team of 450 seasonal and 40 full-time staff.

“We make sure everyone is part of a small team, so they get to know everyone. We hold regular team meetings to share goals and ideas and we use innovations like growing strawberries on tabletops to make working conditions as satisfying as possible.

“Regardless of their background, we are look out for good communicators and leadership potential so we can develop the best staff and find a way to retain them.”

ThePigSite News Desk

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