The Government should do more to highlight the benefits of a career in the food and farming industry, says West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas.
Mr Thomas, who spoke in a Commons debate on the subject on Tuesday, says that the industry is struggling to attract young people but that it will need a skilled and enlarged workforce to provide for the UK’s growing population in the future.
He argues that more should be done to encourage people to consider joining the industry.
“There are many opportunities for young people to enjoy a skilled career in food and farming and schools, parents and careers advice agencies need to do more to spread the word about these opportunities,” he said.
“The Government has a role to play in building confidence that it is a great industry to be a part of, highlighting the excellent animal welfare and environmental standards that exist in the UK.
“As a nation we are still dependent on food imports as farmers only produced 61% of the needs of the UK in 2015. While productivity has been rising at an average of 1.5% per annum, we are in great need of young and highly skilled farmers to help come up with ways to keep this level increasing.
“We need to encourage young people that there are well paid jobs to be had and also that it can be a very good lifestyle choice with the opportunity to live in beautiful parts of the country which are good places to raise children, with access to good schools.
“When I was at school I was frowned upon for opting for a vocational career in the construction industry rather than going to university but times have changed and we need to recognise that a job in the countryside is a worthwhile career choice that has many benefits that other careers do not offer.
“The fast-growing use of state-of-the-art technology such as GPS mapping systems and high-tech milk machines show that a modern-day farmer is very far from being a traditional Farmer Giles-type figure and that there are attractive and challenging career options in the industry for ambitious and creative young people.”