Use technology to drive the agricultural industry forward, embrace science, be innovative and never stop learning – this was the key advice given to Reaseheath students at a ‘question time’ discussion on careers in farming and food production.

The event, sponsored by the Food, Drink & Agricultural Group of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and organised by Reaseheath’s Agricultural Development Academy and agricultural department, offered valuable advice on the opportunities available in the industry and the attributes employers look for when recruiting.

Undergraduates and final year Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture students took the opportunity to question a panel of experienced advisors from across the supply chain.

John Giles (Chair of CIM’s Food, Drink and Agricultural Group and Divisional Director at Promar International), Richard Ratcliffe (Chair of Reaseheath Governors), Helen Wainwright (NFU Cheshire County Advisor), David Slater (Regional Business Manager, NWF Agriculture Ltd) and Ed Lister (local dairy farmer) advised on topics ranging from interview techniques to launching new businesses.

The lively session was chaired by agriculture lecturer and farmer Phil Gibbon.

On how to stand out in the jobs market, the panel advised that you should make sure you have something extra to offer. Said John: “The world is full of well qualified people, and while employers are looking for evidence of a trained mind they want personal skills as well – for instance, someone with a big personality who won’t mind presenting in front of clients.”

If you change your mind after accepting a job or work experience, the panel agreed that there was no shame in deciding it was not for you provided you gave your employer plenty of notice and your reasons for leaving.

On career progression, the panel felt you should approach companies you wanted to work with and consider offering to do work experience for them. You should think carefully about what you wanted to do and keep as many options open to you for as long as possible.

On travel, the advice was that it was a great way to get experience of global issues and probably better taken before you started your professional career, although these days the work environment often offered plenty of opportunities for travel too. If you did get work overseas, make sure that you keep the employer as a reference for future employment.

On financing a new business, the panel emphasised how important it was to keep your bank manager fully informed. This included keeping regular accounts which were sent in on time.

Ed pointed out: “Machinery and equipment can be costly, while skills such as artificial insemination (AI) are comparatively inexpensive to gain and well worth the investment in training.”

Questioned on how to make the most of post Brexit opportunities, the panel were united in the power of positive communication with the local community.

Helen commented: “People voted to come out of the European Union because they wanted to feel more British. It is up to all of us to be the best advert we can for British farming. Look at your local market, welcome your communities onto your

farm, talk to your local MPs and councillors about what you are trying to achieve. “

Closing the meeting John, who is also Divisional Director of Promar International, said: “The CIM has an ongoing relationship with Reaseheath and is very pleased to keep supporting this annual event.

“As ever, I have been impressed with the number and quality of questions from students, and with their obvious enthusiasm and knowledge.

“The reason we are here is to help students progress in their chosen career. The agricultural and food industry is seeing a lot of change now and will continue to do so. We need bright, intelligent young people like these students to join our companies and ensure we have a good future ahead.”