We need our ‘influencers’
This is a dynamic industry, but we need to articulate that much more effectively
IT was a ‘right Royal’ occasion - in both senses of the word. The 2004 Royal Smithfield Show at Earls Court (the last to be staged as it turned out) and the Princess Royal , speaking on the BAGMA stand, enthusing about the ‘positive and proactive approach of the agricultural and groundscare industry in facing up to the issues of future recruitment’.
“Your efforts should be a lesson to many other industry sectors” she said.
The Princess was launching a new stage of the Industry Careers Project, formed two years earlier as a collaboration between AEA, BAGMA, IAgrE and LANTRA, which had raised almost £100,000 as a fighting fund from dealers and manufacturers.
To December 2007, and another milestone as the LTA scheme (Landbased Technicians Accreditation) was launched to a packed house at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. Modelled loosely on CORGI accreditation for gas fitters – the LTA sign or logo would identify individual technicians with a single industry accreditation of competence, regardless of franchises.
Mind you, the CORGI label was so well-known and widely understood that the gas industry decided to drop it in favour of a new moniker, the Gas Safe Register in 2009!.
Again, there was plenty of love in the room, passionate speeches about the dawn of a new era, wonderful images of the LTA ‘membership’ card, and LTA decals alongside the technician’s name on service vans. A few months later, six service vans representing different franchises were lined up for a photo-shoot at an agricultural show to demonstrate the strength of this cross-industry initiative.
So has the momentum that these two major industry initiatives generated been maintained?
A new website has been launched recently - but the intensity of those two events seems to have evaporated.
That is largely because of the evolving landscape of our industry, and also the huge changes in communication and technology (not least during 2020). The 2004 Careers Project talked about creating Power Point presentations for students and careers advisers.
The LTA scheme is still in place, but its relevance and application remains well below those early enthusiastic proposals.
The new website has been launched by the cross industry but clunkily named LE-TEC group (Landbased Engineering, Training and Education Committee). It looks good, is well designed, accessible and contains a great deal of information – but perhaps too much has been crammed in which will always be the case when three organisations are involved.
The website talks about ‘an exciting and dynamic career’ – but there is little excitement or dynamism within the website. And references to LE-TEC or even landbased engineering is unlikely to get the juices flowing amongst those who know nothing about our industry.
My point is that to attract attention, particularly amongst young people, you need to be speaking their language and match their attention span.
In recent times, new careers have been established.
You Tubers, Vodcasters and ‘influencers’ have established themselves as key message carriers to Generation Z. I’m not suggesting that influencers give out grooming advice to technicians, but this industry must have some personable, articulate and enthusiastic under 25s to carry the message through new media.
A last thought. Funding cannot be left to individual organisations. We must find a way to fund on-going industry marketing and recruitment initiatives that respond to changing conditions, rather than this stop-go approach