The Red Shepherdess on industry recruitment

The Red Shepherdess on industry recruitment

We are pleased to have secured Hannah Jackson, The Red Shepherdess as a keynote speaker for our anniversary ball

The ball will take place at the East Midlands Conference Centre on 18th February 2023. The newly-refurbished venue boasts a gorgeous banqueting suite with plenty of space to catch up (and dance) with old friends.  

Tickets are available now for as little as £50, which includes: 

  • Three-course formal meal with wine for the table 
  • Live music 
  • Silent auction raising money for YANA and Yellow Wellies
  • Fun casino tables 
  • Photo opportunities 

We interviewed Hannah ahead of the highly anticipated event to get an insight into how the industry can work together to attract new, diverse talent and what she is looking forward to at February’s event.

Why is it so important to support fresh talent in entering the agri-food industry?

Farming is traditionally a family business; therefore, many young people are not even aware that agriculture is a career they can become involved with if they haven’t grown up around it. With the average age of farmers being 59 years old, it is vital that we encourage young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to invest their careers in agriculture not only to keep the industry thriving but because individuals from outside of the industry often bring innovation, fresh ideas and are open to change and improving the industry and our farming systems.

Do you think the industry could do more to attract new talent into the agri-food industry? 

It is our responsibility to ensure that our industry welcomes new entrants with open arms and to showcase just what an amazing career you can have. We need to show people that our industry offers a whole range of careers, from marketing, to technology, genetics, and so much more. We often forget to sing and shout about these broad roles, focusing solely on the physical element of farming and producing food. I would personally love to see more avenues into the industry through work placements and salaried jobs that focus specifically on new entrants within the industry and helps them grow their knowledge and experience quickly and efficiently. I would also love to see more done to help new entrants really grow and develop a farming business by making land more accessible.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when trying to enter the industry? 

One of my biggest challenges was actually getting a step through the door of the industry. It is so hard to know where to begin when you know nothing about farming or anyone within it, and it took a lot of patience and determination to keep going until that door opened. Luckily a farmer took a chance on me and offered me some work experience; however, he must have been the first yes in over fifty no’s! I had many stereotypes to overcome, and I had to prove myself to many sceptics I met along the way, which at times did take its toll. I would love to see an industry that is all accepting and inclusive for everyone, and thankfully we are heading in that direction. In the first year of my career, I worked with no wage to learn and develop my skills as much as possible, and this meant I took a financial hit which made it more challenging when starting my own business later on. However, one thing I quickly learnt was that farming is a career that throws many challenges at you and will also continue to do so; it’s the nature of the game, unfortunately; however, it does develop you to become highly adaptable and good at working well under pressure.

Are you looking forward to the MDS anniversary ball?

I’m really looking forward to joining MDS Trainees, Members, Alumni and Friends in celebrating the last 7 years of achievements from both MDS and the wider industry. It’s so important to attract new talent into the industry and help more people understand where their food comes from. The silent auction will also be a fantastic opportunity to raise funds for YANA and Yellow Wellies.