Morrisons supermarket chain plans to launch a £2 million apprenticeship fund that will be used to train budding farmers, in a bid to help the industry train enough people needed to meet the UK’s future food requirements.
Research shows that farming is facing a recruitment challenge, with fewer farmers’ children wanting to run family businesses. Added to this, only three per cent of UK farmers are under the age of 35, and the average age of UK farmers is currently 59, meaning that succession has become a real problem.
Moreover, there may not be sufficient knowledge of the countryside in towns and cities to generate interest in farming, particularly with around 16 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they have never even visited a farm.
However, according to a spokesman for Morrisons, its programme and apprenticeship funding will equip the farmers of the future with the broad skills required. It will also upskill apprentices with the business knowledge they need to provide food manufacturers and retailers with the products they need.
As the spokesman added, Morrisons is British farming’s largest customer, so it makes sense to support the industry with an apprenticeship fund so that more new farmers can be trained to provide food to UK consumers.
The fund has been welcomed by the National Farmers Union (NFU), with a spokeswoman saying that improving skills is key to unlocking productivity gains on farms and vital in addressing the future challenges and pressures faced by the sector. She added that if there were more training and skills opportunities for apprentices, the industry could benefit from having a professional and growing workforce.