Laura Savage  -  The Edibles Sector - Labour and Education 2014 onwards

I live in Warwickshire with my husband Adam and two dogs Harry and Oliver. I am originally from Wales and moved to Warwickshire in 1998 to study Equine Business Management at Warwickshire College, graduating in 2002. I currently coach Netball and have also played Netball for Leamington in the National League. I am involved in a small Welsh Cob stud at home in Wales, and have up until very recently, due to my horse retiring, completed in Affiliated Dressage and Showing.

I worked at Warwickshire College for 10 years in a Business Development Role for the Land Based Industries. From the employers I met in this role it steered me towards discovering a specific interest in the Horticulture and Agriculture sector. I was amazed just how many opportunities these industries have to offer people as a career path. During my time there I worked with numerous employers, discussing their business needs and designing training programmes to meet them. These ranged from small “one man bands” through to large national companies and during this time I set up the first national Horticulture Apprenticeship programme for The Garden Centre Group.

I have been working in the Agricultural recruitment industry for nearly two years, currently working for Staffline Agriculture as Agricultural Development Manager. Staffline and my sponsor the Horticultural Development Company couldn’t have been more supportive and will both benefit from my area of study. I am extremely pleased to have been given the opportunity to be a Nuffield 2014 scholar and am really looking forward to beginning the journey!

I started working for one of the major Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) providers in 2012. It was here I learnt a lot more about the edibles sector of Horticulture and its requirements in relation to labour and training. During my time there I led the development of a UK training programme to provide an entry route into the industry for UK unemployed residents. It became immediately apparent that something “different” needed to be developed to ensure farms had sustainable solutions available to them in relation to recruitment, employment and training. The UK programme was just one small option of many solutions that are needed to be developed to help meet labour and training requirements for the industry over the coming years.

I feel incredibly privileged to be given the opportunity to be a part of the Nuffield scholarship scheme. The chance to study a highly topical subject, which has the potential to feed into and make real difference to the industry, with the potential to offer alternative solutions to recruitment, labour and education is extremely exciting.  I am keep to research labour and training solutions used around the world, bringing ideas that could be developed back to the UK. The aim is to find potential options that enable farms to secure their workforce for the future, supporting them to harvest their produce not just next year, but in 5 and 10+ years time too. I am really looking forward to meeting with growers, and key stakeholders in the countries I choose to visit to further my understanding of this incredible sector.

My topic is highly relevant to my current role working for Staffline Agriculture and their support for my scholarship, along with the Horticultural Development Company and the trust itself very much appreciated. I am daunted but also excited about the coming months ahead as I start my Nuffield Journey.