Sainsbury’s is setting out to change the perception of farming among young people by becoming the first retailer to launch an apprenticeship scheme for careers in horticulture and agriculture.
The retailer this week revealed the results of a YouGov poll that showed more than a third of 16 to 24-year-olds were a good match for a modern-day career in farming, yet “outdated” perceptions meant nearly 80% of them would not consider a farming career. The industry needed 60,000 new employees by 2020 just to replace retiring farmers, it warned.
Sainsbury’s said the programme, run in partnership with Staffline, would give young people the chance to work with food suppliers on roles ranging from learning the digital infrastructure of glasshouse computer systems to managing crop growth.
Apprentices will also learn the practical aspects of harvesting; identifying and dealing with pests and diseases; planting; monitoring moisture and nutrients; and use of equipment.
Every 12 weeks, the apprentices will visit other growers in Sainsbury’s supply chain. “Our research reveals there’s a significant gap between what young people think of farming, and some of the jobs that are available today,” said Robert Honeysett, Sainsbury’s horticultural manager.
“We’re passionate in playing our part to support the future of British farming.
“Our research reveals there’s a significant gap between what young people think of farming, and some of the jobs that are available today.”