“We need to keep young people interested in farming”
As the only UK bank to offer an Agricultural Apprenticeship Programme, Barclays plays a leading role in nurturing a new generation of agricultural relationship managers. We hear from two of the newest recruits.
Pavan Bains was coming to the end of her A-levels when she discovered the Barclays Agricultural Apprenticeship – a programme which gives candidates the opportunity to gain industry experience while earning a professional qualification.
“I didn’t have much experience in farming before I started this apprenticeship – but my grandparents and their parents before them worked as farmers in India,” says Pavan. “Working for Barclays, I found out that no other bank offers a specific agriculture apprenticeship like this. It’s quite unique. It’s important because we need to keep young people interested in the industry.”
Pavan is one of five applicants to be accepted onto Barclays’ Agricultural Apprenticeship Programme in September last year. The scheme, which launched two years ago, offers candidates on-the-job experience while working towards a professional qualification in agriculture relationship management, enabling them to earn while they learn.
Pavan was new to the world of agriculture but has quickly gained insights into the industry: “I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the programme. So I started reading up more on the industry, thinking about things I hadn’t thought about before and going out to auctions and farmers markets with other bank managers.”
Taking on a role in Leicestershire, UK, Pavan says she has really enjoyed how varied the apprenticeship scheme is: “No two days are the same. You get to meet lots of different clients, visit farms – and there’s so much going on in the industry. It’s a really interesting place to be.”
Six months into the programme, Pavan has gained a strong understanding of the agricultural industry – from learning about the opportunities created by diversification in farming to how to build long-lasting client relationships.
“With Brexit, nobody’s sure what’s going to happen in the industry,” says Pavan, “but I think there’s a lot of potential for diversification for farms. The farmers I work with have made a lot of changes to bring in more income streams.”
“I’ve got a great support network at Barclays”
Liam Brittain – who also started on Barclays’ apprenticeship programme this year – says growing up in the Yorkshire Dales motivated him to apply.
“When you’re exposed to the rural community, you develop more of an interest in it – and there are very few apprenticeships involved in agriculture.”
His favourite part of the programme so far has been meeting with clients: “I’m building on my knowledge of the industry all the time and developing a rapport with clients.”
Since starting the apprenticeship, Liam has been impressed by the variety of the role – and how important agricultural relationship managers are to farmers. “They’re one of the key professionals that farmers see in their day-to-day lives while running their business,” he explains. “You see so many different things in a week – there’s nothing boring about the role. Once you delve into it, it’s an amazing industry with some great characters.”
The future of farming looks bright – if younger people joining the industry keep bringing good ideas, improving efficiency and developing farming techniques – we can meet the global demand for food.
Along with gaining skills on the job, Liam has been busy studying for his degree, which he says can be hard work at times. “For me, one of the biggest challenges is the degree work. To overcome that I spoke to my manager, personal tutor and to the other apprentices going through the scheme. It’s great to keep in communication and I think I’ve got a great support network at Barclays.”
When asked about the future of farming, Liam is positive the industry will continue to thrive with the backing of younger generations. “The future of farming looks bright and the agricultural community is quite a resilient one,” he says. “If younger people joining the industry keep bringing good ideas, improving efficiency and developing farming techniques – we can meet the global demand for food.
“Barclays is supporting the future of farming with the apprenticeship programme. I think that if people look into the apprenticeship, they’ll realise how great it is.”