By Nick Joy

Fish Farmer - - Contents - 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

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