Investing in better training of managers is what the industry needs to retain its staff.
AHDB senior skills manager Tess Howe says employers and ‘leaders of people’ should be guided with a pragmatic approach to help boost support in the role of manager.
She says: “That is one of our training issues, that people do not look after their staff properly.
“It is easy for workers who have been promoted to lose their own staff because they cannot cope with what is happening above them.”
While research suggests 35 per cent of UK farmers have no formal management training, Ms Howe says it is not that farmers are bad managers, but that the industry does not invest enough in that part of training.
And hiring people is an expensive business, she says. It is about 18 months’ salary from the time somebody has been recruited to when they are fully trained for the role.
“We are trying to help people be better recruiters in the first place,” Ms Howe says. “But then when you have got them, to make sure you look after them properly.”
AHDB is working on projects to boost training and opportunities in the sector, encouraging employers to understand the benefits of
leadership and management.
As well as a skills strategy, the board is focusing on how to get agriculture recognised as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subject.
If the sector can get farming into biology and chemistry lessons, for example, youngsters who may not have ever considered the industry ‘start putting two and two together’.
Ms Howe adds: “As an industry, we have been very vocal about what we love, but we are not thinking about what the next generation wants in a job.
“It is often that people recruit someone because they need a body, rather than it being the right person.
“They key thing for trailblazing with apprenticeships, for example, is it is not just about bringing people in, but about developing your own staff as well.”