Getting in at the grass roots; addressing the agriculture skills gap

We all know that farmers in Ireland are incredibly adept at growing high-quality produce. But over the last few years, we have seen an increased shortage of agriculture managers across the industry.

This is a worry, as it’s these individuals who are tasked with navigating the often complex agricultural landscape both from a practical perspective, but also a human management one too.

There are a few different reasons as to why this skills gap is now so prominent; one being that farmers are having to change how they approach succession planning.

Farms are no longer being handed down through the generations as they once used to be, and so therefore talent must be found outside of the usual family set-up. In addition, we are also seeing that farmers now require a different skillset compared to years gone by.

Of course, they still need to have an excellent knowledge of the practical farming techniques they will use on the land every day, but it’s also crucial for them to know how to sell and market their goods and services.

We aren’t alone in our quest for talent; every industry is looking to new markets to recruit talent that can bring a fresh perspective and innovation, as well as sustain or boost productivity and ultimately drive growth.

Kubota strongly believes that attracting new graduates to a career in farming is an issue worth championing. It knows that the industry needs a whole range of skills to take graduates into the next era of agriculture, especially considering the rate of technological change that is currently taking place on farms across the country.

But in order to attract those graduates that can make farms more efficient – and that are skilled in automation or data for example – there is still a way to go.

It’s for these reasons that Kubota has placed a priority on delivering a high-quality apprenticeship scheme, so that those entering the industry have a solid foundation upon which to start to their career.

Kubota’s scheme takes the form of a three-year block release programme, which aims to blend elements within an academic environment with ‘on the job’ experience. This allows trainees to enjoy full-time employment with their local Kubota dealership as well as have formal specialist training during their time in college.

The Kubota Dealer Apprenticeship Programme gives apprentices the skills and experience they need to get a head start in the agriculture industry, and provides an excellent opportunity for any young person starting their career in land-based engineering.

But, what’s more, Kubota believes that this scheme will have a positive impact on the future of the industry, enabling it to train the next generation of workers to the highest levels and ultimately start to close the skills gap before it’s too late.

Matt Davis, technical apprentice at Kubota and the winner of last year’s City & Guilds Learner of the Year award, shares some insight on his experience of the Kubota Dealer Apprenticeship Programme.

Kubota dealer apprenticeship programme

What made you decide to choose a career in land-based industries?

Engineering has always appealed to me as a career; the variety of machinery is vast and I get to work with everything from handheld two-stroke equipment all the way through to mowers, utility vehicles and tractors – and from compact machines to large agricultural ones.

After researching the area and spotting the horticultural and agricultural issues facing the sector, I wanted to learn more and make a positive impact on the future of the industry.

What has Kubota helped you to achieve?

Since joining Kubota UK in October 2015, there have been many challenges that I have had to face and the company has always given me all the resources I have needed to overcome them.

Throughout my apprenticeship, I have been required to complete a range of tasks such as engine and transmission strip-downs, or to diagnose and repair faults.

At first these tasks seemed daunting, but Kubota UK’s support helped me to grow in confidence as an engineer, capable of tackling similar tasks in the future.

Would you recommend the Kubota Dealer Apprenticeship Programme?

Anybody looking into an apprenticeship should definitely consider applying for a place on a Kubota programme. The resources and support that the company provides allow you to push your boundaries on a daily basis to achieve your potential.

The end goal is to graduate as a well-rounded, competent engineer who can cope with the day-to-day rigours of the role in the agriculture sector.

I would not hesitate in recommending these courses to anybody who is looking for a career in this space.

What have been the most memorable moments of your apprenticeship far?

The highlight of my apprenticeship was most definitely in March 2016, when I was given the opportunity to attend a two-week training course at Kubota’s factory in Sakai, Japan.

Seeing the factory and visiting Japan with Kubota was an experience I will never forget. The knowledge I gained from that course has proved invaluable over the last few years.

How has an apprenticeship through Kubota developed you as a person?

Since joining Kubota UK the nature of the job – with the constant interaction with customers – has really helped to develop my confidence in delivering customer service, as well as dealing with issues and finding appropriate solutions to challenges.

These are skills that I know will be helpful both now and later in my career.

Further information

To find out more about the Kubota Dealer Apprenticeship Programme, please go online. Or simply click here