Name: Erica Taylor
Type of Apprenticeship: Agriculture Apprentice (1st Year)
Company: JG Orr – Milton of Blebo Farm, Cupar, Fife
Erica Taylor is currently in her first year of her Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture with JG Orr near Cupar, Fife. Erica has loved her first year of her apprenticeship and has learned so much throughout her short time working in the #agriculture sector!
As part of #foodanddrink & #agriculture week for our #DYWSummerSectors campaign, Ross from the DYW Team was delighted to be able to have a chat with Erica about her career journey so far, the experiences she has gained and her plans for the future:
What made you pursue a career in the Agriculture sector?
I realised from quite an early age that I was not the type of person who would have enjoyed working in an office 9-5, as I am a very outdoorsy person. I wanted to work in the agriculture sector but it was initially difficult to find opportunities/information whilst at school, as not many of my friends/teachers knew much about the sector. If I’m honest, school wasn’t really for me, however I had a clear goal of working in the agriculture industry, so set out to make that happen. I decided to try and get some work experience and managed to work part time on a local sheep farm in Angus close to where I live in Monifieth. This was great as it allowed me to gain practical hands on experience of working in the industry and confirmed for me that this was the sector I really wanted to work in.
What pathway did you take to get your Modern Apprenticeship?
I decided to leave school at the end of 5th year and was keen to try and work full time in the agriculture industry. I searched and applied for jobs/contacted local farmers to ask if they had any opportunities. It was quite difficult initially as employers ideally need people who have experience and I was just starting out in the sector. However, things developed really quickly after I contacted Lantra in Perth, the National Training Organisation for the Land based industries. I explained that I was looking for an opportunity to start my career in the sector and was keen and willing to take any opportunities that might be available. It was great timing as Lantra made me aware of an Apprentice opportunity with JG Orr in Fife who were looking to recruit a young person for a Modern Apprenticeship. I applied for the position, interviewed and then got the job, which I was delighted about!
What would you say is the best thing about working in the sector?
Working outside! It’s great being able to work outside in the fresh air all day. I really enjoy that. I also really enjoy my work and people I work with. I have a great boss (not just saying that as he will be reading this!) and a really good team of people I work with that always help and support me. The job is also so varied and is different every day, so you never get bored.
What does your average day look like in your job?
It can be anything really! No two days are the same. It might vary from lifting parsnips to ploughing, sowing, irrigation, working with cattle, carrying out maintenance on equipment and machinery. Every day is different and really interesting. As well as carrying out my daily tasks and learning “on the job” I also have to complete college work from SRUC to get my MA qualification. There are 15 units of course work spread across the year and I have to complete them in my own time, with someone from the college coming in regularly to see me at the farm to assess how I am getting on and making sure I am on track and meeting my deadlines.
What skills would you say you need to work in this industry?
I would say that you need to have your head screwed on and be very sensible. You have to have a passion for working in this sector as it can be a very physical and demanding job, so you need to really love what you do. You need to be dedicated as there can be long days and you need to have good time keeping skills and a positive attitude. Communication is also really important when working as part of the team at the farm so that everyone knows their roles and also knowing that its ok to ask for help from more experienced staff.
What skills have you learned since starting your Apprenticeship?
I have learned so much in my first year of my apprenticeship and it has been a great experience. I have learned a lot of technical skills from working on the farm as well as how to work as part of a team of more experienced people. For me I would say the biggest thing has been how my confidence has grown and developed since starting my apprenticeship. I have learned a lot in my first year and hopefully that will continue!
How has your experience been of being a female in a male dominated industry?
The industry is traditionally very male dominated but I didn’t have any doubts or concerns about going into the sector as a young female. My boss and colleagues didn’t view me as any different to the other guys working there, which was brilliant, and I just got stuck in from day one! It is a very physically demanding job so you need to be willing to accept this and push yourself every day, but that is something that I also really enjoy. I would encourage any young female to enter the industry as I can only say from my experience how supportive everyone has been and how much I have enjoyed it.
What are your future career aspirations?
I am hoping to be kept on with my current employers and continue to learn and develop my skills. In time I would like to learn how to operate some of the really large machinery such as harvesters etc. and be as skilled as the rest of the team. I definitely see myself working in the sector my entire career so I’m excited about the future!
What advice would you give a young person thinking about a career in the sector?
I would say just go for it! Try to get some work experience first to get an idea if the sector is definitely for you, so you know what to expect. It can be challenging at times and you need to work hard, but it is extremely rewarding and you won’t regret it! More and more farms are looking to recruit young people into the industry, so it is a great time to think about starting your career in agriculture.
If you are an employer who would like to showcase your outstanding apprentices, promote your apprentice opportunities and raise the profile of your sector, then please get in touch with our DYW Dundee & Angus Team for more information. We would be delighted to hear from you! You can contact the team on 01382 443409 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.