Page 34 - Farm labour in the UK
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week on a dairy farm and, they got a qualification at the end of it. And quite a lot of those young people actually went into the dairy industry. They were offered opportunities”(Anonymous)
Work experience is another means of providing training to young people, and can be formal or informal. A variety of schemes attempt to connect young people with farming, be it through industry career days, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships and/or certified training courses. Another means of connecting with farming is through volunteering, training and education opportunities on urban city farms.
City farms case study
“There are a lot of young people who are really interested in the animal care side or the food growing side or more practical hands-on work. But there is no progression really because [while] there are quite a few city farms they are all very small” (City farm 1)
The first city farm was established in Kentish Town, London, in 1972. This eventually grew to a number of 65 city farms across the UK. With a variety of purposes, including social and environmental sustainability, city farms also offer opportunities to young people in terms of skills, training and education connected to farming and gardening. There is no standardised approach to youth programmes across the country’s city farms, but many strongly support individuals passing through to develop an awareness of farming and its potential for a career, with one respondent pointing out the gap in the provision of some kind of stepping stone for urban youths from working on city farms to an actual career in farming.
“We would all be well placed to support some sort of move to refer people” (City farm 1)
At one London farm, young people are retained for as long as they want to stay, with one youth having worked on the farm for nine years. They emphasised
the importance of quality of experience over quantity in a child’s development.
“Grant funders like to see big numbers but we are quite keen on that kind of long- term impact and actually, really developing and working with someone” (City farm 1)
One advantage of the placement of city farms is the ability to increase diversity, represent BAME communities, offer a step-up to children from lower income families, and encourage participation, particularly of girls. One respondent pointed out that recruitment tends to be targeted towards these groups.
“We have a waiting list, and we have a criteria, and we do say we will be positively discriminating because we want it to be those who would really benefit” (City farm 1)
One barrier to these urban youths seeing farming as a career seems to be lack of exposure to the potential for career opportunities in farming:
“Very few of them even see that as an opportunity for them to go into that career. The doors are closed before they’ve even considered it” (City farm 1)
A second barrier for those who do develop an interest, and for operators of city farms, is putting in place some method of connecting young people to employers and jobs in industry.
“We’ve got one young farmer who is determined to be a dairy farmer. She has got her heart set on it. She has done loads of research but again it is – ‘well how on earth do I make that start?’ and ‘I can’t afford to go and stay somewhere’ and ‘do I need to do free work experience?’ and ‘how am I going to afford that?’” (City farm 1)
City farms tend to experience high demand for their youth groups, with hundreds of young people having passed through over the years. One respondent

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