If you are looking to address the horticultural skills shortage, then investing in harvest machines is a smart move that will help reduce the number of employees you require.
However, there is a hidden opportunity when it comes to harvest machines and finding new recruits: the new crop of young people to hit the job market – Gen Z.
Gen Z is made up of those born between 1995 and 2010, which means the youngest among them is 6 and the oldest is 24. Around a quarter of Gen Z are currently figuring out their futures or getting a job for the very first time.
Naturally, those of us in farming will want to encourage Gen Z to choose a career in horticulture. Not only will doing so help us fix the skills shortage but will also mean that our farms and orchards will benefit from new energy.
But there’s something else to consider; members of Gen Z are technology natives. In fact, many members of Gen Z will feel more comfortable working in tandem with technology than they would with traditional farming practices like hand picking.
So, if you’re looking for technology savvy machinery operators and workers, look no further than Gen Z. They will work comfortably with harvester machines and put you in touch with other technologies that could make your orchard operations faster, smarter and easier.
However, the challenge is attracting Gen Z to consider horticulture in the first place. What can offer a generation brought up on social media and instant streaming TV shows? A lot actually.
In this blog, we will cover some of the strategies to attract Gen Z to a fulfilling career in horticulture.
Speak their language
Horticulture as an umbrella term may be quite meaningless to Gen Z, but particularly if they grew up in urban environments. There’s a lot of untapped talent there, but they’ll never know it if they know about the opportunities awaiting them in the horticulture industry.
Gen Z are used to receiving stories in story form, such as through personalised YouTube videos and TikToks. We’re not saying sign up and create your own viral video dance, but if you want to get through to Gen Z, it will help if you break things down for them.
Tell them the story of your own career. Explain what different job roles mean and where they can take them. Gen Z are as hungry as any other generation to find work they are interested in and enjoy, so show them what’s on offer in a way that’s easy to understand.
Gen Z are passionate about the environment, diversity and inclusion. They’re not just looking for a job for the sake of a job, they want to connect with what they’re doing and why.
By introducing diversity policies, greater inclusion and sustainable practices, you will naturally attract Gen Z to look favourably on your business.
For this reason, it may also be effective to share the importance of food production and world nutrition with would-be Gen Z employees.
Gen Z has been beset by job insecurity issues. From environmental threats, to COVID-19, to the rise of the gig economy, Gen Z faces unpredictable working lives.
You can cut through the noise by demonstrating the longevity and security of a career in horticulture. By offering career pathways and opportunities for career progression, you will naturally pique the interest of Gen Z members.
Another great approach is offering mentorship programs. Many would-be farmers know little to nothing about the industry and may be intimidated. By offering a mentorship program, you provide encouragement to Gen Z applicants