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Young Farmer Focus: Alex Howes - 'Welcoming new entrants can have positive impact'

Alex Howes, 25, has been working in agriculture for three years and has built a farming job website (barn-door.co.uk) to help farmers hire staff and encourage new industry entrants.

New entrant: Growing up on Exmoor, I was always out and about roaming the moors either on foot or on horseback.

 

So when I went off to university aged 18 it was no surprise that I missed the outdoors, and when my friends headed for city jobs after graduating, I got a job on a sheep farm.

 

Being a lambing assistant was possibly about as far as you can get from a physics degree, but despite my total lack of experience, my new employers were really supportive and encouraging.

 

It was a steep learning curve, but I loved it. Hard work? Yes. Exhausting? Definitely. Challenging? Very. But it felt so good to be working with the sheep, doing something practical and learning new skills in an industry which I had previously known nothing about.


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Challenge: I have now been working in agriculture for more than three years, doing everything from general farm work to data analysis on dairy calves.

 

I have always felt grateful to my first employer for encouraging me when I entered the industry.

 

I think it is a real shame that more people, both graduates and school-leavers, do not consider farming as a career.

 

There is an idea that if your family are not farmers, you are not welcome in the industry, but that is completely untrue.

 

The fact is there is a growing shortage of UK agricultural workers and welcoming new entrants with a diverse range of education and background can have a hugely positive impact.

 

And if the industry can train a fresh new generation which will continue to support, develop and innovate in British farming, that has got to be a good thing.

 

BarnDoor: With this in mind I have built BarnDoor – a farming job site to help farmers find skilled and reliable staff, and to help workers find jobs, especially those new to the industry.

 

It has been hard work, but I have been getting a lot of positive feedback and I am reaching more and more people.

 

BarnDoor has already helped almost 1,000 people find jobs or staff, and I think that is fantastic.

 

I am also aiming to promote positive changes in the industry, in particular working conditions and working hours, so that farming can offer a more attractive and healthy career choice for young people.

 

Through BarnDoor, farmers can find skilled, reliable and dependable staff who will continue to back British farming.

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