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Young Farmer Focus: Taila Ward - 'There is a lack of understanding about careers in farming and it puts people off'

Taila Ward, 18, is a Barclays agricultural apprentice based in Kent. She is currently studying for a degree in banking practice and management.

Apprenticeship: My fascination with farming developed during sixth form, when I realised I wanted a career that combined my love of animals with an interest in finance.

 

I grew up riding horses competitively, while always finding my dad’s profession as a financial adviser appealing.

 

I jumped at the opportunity to become an agricultural apprentice, and the Barclays role immediately stood out. Barclays funds my degree in banking practice and management as part of its apprenticeship programme, which gives me a qualification at the same time as industry experience.

 

It is really rewarding to apply what you learn in the classroom to a job straight away, and my team’s support has been brilliant in helping me balance the course with having a job at the same time.


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Young people: I enjoy shadowing my ‘buddy’ at Barclays. We go to events and meet our farming customers together, so we understand how financing helps to overcome their very specific challenges. There are lots of opportunities for young people in farming and I would love to see more of them enter the industry.

 

Last year, a Barclays campaign called #FarmTheFuture found the proportion of under 25s running farms has dropped by two thirds over the past decade.

 

The average age of the British farmer is now 55.5 years old, and almost four-in-10 (38 per cent) are aged 65 or over. This presents some challenges when it comes to succession planning on the farm.

 

The sector is rapidly changing, with technology creating new roles and innovating the way produce is grown and land is managed.

 

Succession: There appears to be a lack of understanding about careers in farming, and it puts people off.

 

Research into the thoughts of 1,000 millennials found 59 per cent believed they could not afford to become a farmer, while 43 per cent thought they needed to inherit land.

 

This is not true – apprenticeships like mine are a good example of the variety of roles and ways to get into the sector, even if you do not have a background in the industry.

 

While many farm businesses have historically been passed down through families, farmers with no direct succession are now exploring alternatives, including share farming agreements that allow new entrants to farm in partnership with the farm owner with much less capital required.

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