LEAF Education research outlines opportunity to engage and inspire young people in farming and food

The industry should explain the story of farming and its career opportunities, says LEAF Education

The industry should explain the story of farming and its career opportunities, says LEAF Education

LEAF Education is encouraging the farming industry to take action to inspire the next generation.

The agri-educational organisation unveiled the results of its latest research of 2,500 young people this week, which it carried out in partnership with McDonald’s UK and Harper Adams’ School of Sustainable Food and Farming. It found the agri-food industry is best placed to engage, motivate and inspire 12-19-year-olds about the sector and how to get involved in it.


While the majority of young people have not had the opportunity to learn about the agri-food industry in school (66 per cent), 75 per cent believe that agriculture and food education should play a larger part in the school curriculum.

The research looks at how much of a ‘conscious consumer’ the next generation are, with results showing that teens are keen to know and understand more, with 80 per cent wanting to learn more about sustainable food choices.

They also highlighted a trust in supermarkets and big brands to make those sustainability decisions on their behalf, before products hit the shelves or restaurants (65 per cent). Young people are now calling for a better understanding of environmental labelling – far above carbon cost, food miles and how choices they make can have a bigger impact on the climate crisis.

Some 84 per cent of young people stated that with the right and clear information, environmental sustainability would be their number-one factor, over and above cost or convenience when purchasing food.

Farming careers

The research also found that young people are generally positive about careers in the agri-food industry, describing possible career opportunities as ‘rewarding’, ‘well paid’, ‘resilient’, and ‘fulfilling’. They also recognise that the industry offers careers that can have a positive impact on and are important for the environment but lack specific information about the job opportunities available and the practical steps on how to enter the industry.

Carl Edwards, LEAF director, education and public engagement, said: “We know that young people choose their future career and next steps by age 16 or 17, but at the moment they do not have a good understanding of what a career in the agri-food industry looks like – what roles there are, land-based colleges and universities and what career progression is available.

”They require further guidance on how to link their school subjects to agriculture-related careers and express a clear interest in attending on-farm experiential learning to see and learn more about different career paths in agriculture.”

The findings also reveal that young people are hugely positive about the agri-food industry, with nine in 10 stating that we should all appreciate and have a better connection to where our food comes from. 

Industry clarion call

LEAF Education has called on the industry, as a collective, to inspire the future generation to get involved by:

  • Offering work experience placements to provide young people with practical insights into the different career options in agriculture;
  • Providing clear guidance on how to link school subjects to agriculture-related careers;
  • Asking industry professionals, agriculture colleges, and apprentices to talk directly with young people and share their experiences and knowledge with them;
  • Developing a programme for young people to join during their sixth form with different agriculture industry placements offered – a few days, weekends, or during school holidays to provide them with varied experiences and touchpoints;
  • Offering teacher training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers on career guidance to support them in providing the right information to their students.