On the 29th of September, the inaugural Food and Farming Jobs Fair will take place at the Norfolk Showground Arena with an aim to bring together those looking for work within the agricultural sector and farming businesses wanting to engage with the local community.
The event is organised by the Dereham Jobcentre, and sponsored by the Department for Work & Pensions, the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association and two significant poultry businesses in the area, Jonah’s Handling Ltd and P.D. Hook (Hatcheries) Ltd.
Robert Dadd, employer advisor at the Dereham Jobcentre, said that they have worked successfully with key Norfolk companies – particularly poultry businesses – to aid with recruitment, as well as encouraging claimants to consider a career in agriculture.
“Over the years, we’ve seen the links between the general public and agriculture eroded and yet farming offers one of the most sustainable career paths in the current climate,” he said. “It has not been impacted by a changing society in the way that retail, for example, has. However, it can appear to be a difficult industry to get a foothold in, particularly in the post Brexit, post covid economy.”
“For a long time, we’ve heard that Norfolk employers are in the middle of nowhere but then we also hear from claimants that they are in the middle of nowhere,” Mr Dadd said. “This means that both are somewhere, and potentially close enough to be a solution to the other.
“We also hope to change perceptions of the agricultural industry – students used to be told that if they didn’t do well at school, they could end up in lower skilled jobs such as farming or factories, however as there is a broad range of roles available for all skill levels and the sector has moved forward in leaps and bounds when it comes to methodologies and technology.”
The Food and Farming Jobs Fair is another way for Jobcentre to help agricultural workers and businesses come together.
“The recruitment process can often be difficult for agricultural businesses,” Mr Dadd explained. “At the Dereham branch, we have made interview rooms available for farms that do not have those facilities, or which are concerned about site security and encouraged them to reconnect with the local community at a time when food security and self-sufficiency are more important than ever.”