By Nick Joy
IHEAR again and again, whether it be agriculture or aquaculture, that we can’t get staff who want to work in the country or in an isolated area. It seems that people are being taught from an early age that what they should really want to do is sit in a dark room and stare morosely into a computer screen until it is time to go home.
Sure, many professions are well paid and living in town offers the attraction of having everything on your doorstep, but when you start to think of the level of illogic involved in the way things are it does beggar belief.
We have a rising tide of unhappiness and mental health issues, the cure for which - taking it slower, less stress, more hobbies, sunlight and exercise – often lies in being outside.
More and more people are using their weekends to get out of town, and it seems mad to me to earn a larger salary just so that you can escape to the country.
I understand that money gives you choice but if that choice comes at the expense of your health and wellbeing then it’s time to think again.
Why not spend the week doing exciting things in the countryside and do the dull and boring stuff on the computer at the weekend? It just seems that the whole world is back to front.
Of course, the countryside will not suit all people. My dear sister adores London and feels she is being tortured if she has to leave.
The countryside does not need everyone, but we need people from a young age to see that quality of life often is far better than quality of earnings. I am not arguing for poor pay in rural industries, but until the government and the public are willing to pay more for food, this is the way it is going to be.
The problem is that the powers that be value academic achievement above the generally lower paid and physical career paths of food producers.
How many politicians, lawyers, doctors and so on do you know without a degree? How many teachers are going to teach that higher learning is not critical to someone’s success? The pragmatic people in the countryside are very rarely represented in or to government.
When I was young (off I go again) we were taught woodwork, basic pipework, electrics and iron work, and we left school thinking that this was what we needed to know in order to get on in the world.
It is time these skills were brought back into the curriculum, starting in primary school.The intention should be that every child acquires a basic understanding of how to work with their hands before leaving secondary education. Even if that child does not want to have a career using their hands, at least they will have respect for the people who do.
It does seem a long way ahead to start talking about our industries to primary schools but we have a long-term problem.
If we don’t start to talk to our future staff at a very early age and lobby government to teach them the balance between manual skills and
The government has understood the need for engineers and though they do not understand the countryside, they are beginning to understand that we need food.
Scotland depends on its food and drink sector more than most countries and maybe it is time for Scotland to stand out in this area.
We are renowned historically for our academics and business people, and now we should concentrate on becoming a country where being a food producer is seen as the province of the high achiever.
So let’s talk with educators, badger government and advocate our careers. Let’s not try against us, but change it and change people’s mindsets.
I have had a career of well over 30 years in this industry and loved every moment. As I grew older, my abilities at sea waned but my experience offered me balance and I moved into management.
This path is rare nowadays, especially for someone without a degree. Let’s make it easier for the next generations to have fun and excitement in a fantastic environment! I hate the thought of no one in the future having the sort of career I have had.
Being a food producer should be seen as the province of the high achiever