Report Synopsis

Farmers’ responsibility to become more competitive and sustainable employers

Ed Payne

Attracting people into the industry of farming has been a perpetual challenge, and will continue to be unless we can make it an attractive career choice, and working environment. What I have tried to do while studying this topic is to learn from great examples that I experienced on my travels, to encourage farmers to do all they can to create a place of work that people will see as a credible career path. It’s a ‘build it and they will come’ approach; if the workplace is wrong, then solving the problem is doomed from the beginning.

The expanding Irish dairy sector is going to need thousands of people to enter it over the next ten years, however this dilemma is not unique to farming or dairy alone. The unemployment rate in Ireland is returning to the low levels of ten years ago and currently sits at 5.4%, more that 3% lower than the euro zone average(CSO Ireland).The rate has fallen sharply since early 2012 when it was 16%.

I conducted a survey at an Agri-careers day in Dublin in 2017,which provided some key findings for the basis to my report. Over 85% of the people attending the day were from an agricultural background. This raised the question, “Why is a career in agriculture not appealing to those who do not come from a farming background?”

During my travels, I had the opportunity to meet many great farmers who all have their own approach to staff. Many of these were aware of their own strengths, and weaknesses, as a manager. They were also conscious of their own style of management and the effects it has on the employee engagement.

Some of the common themes I saw run through the farms I visited that are being very pro-active regarding employees were,

  • Great communication at all levels
  • Continual investment in improving the working conditions
  • Mentoring, training, team building
  • High level of respect for employees
  • Realistic expectations
  • Awareness for their employees’ priorities

Similar Reports

  • 2019

    Farmer to farmer knowledge exchange: Relevance and challenges during change

    Vicky Robinson
  • 2019

    Powering Pasture and the relevance of red meat in the 21st century

    Alex Brewster (2016 NSch)
  • 2019

    Attracting Youth into Agriculture. Developing a strategic framework to encourage young people into agriculture

    Clare Peltzer