A SCHEME is to be trialled in Worcestershire aimed at filling hundreds of vacant jobs in the farming industry with local people.

Positions in production horticulture and agriculture have been typically taken by international workers, but all that could change thanks to this initiative from an off-shoot of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs.

The labour solution organisation HOPS, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the YFC, is holding two meetings in the county this week to explain the process. The open events will be on tomorrow at Evesham Town Hall and on Friday at Worcester Guild Hall. Both start at 10.30am.

“The recruitment of UK residents to work in agriculture and horticulture has long been a challenge for the industry, resulting in farms turning to sources further from home or changing their businesses significantly, “ said Laura Savage, operations manager for HOPS. “On the other hand, accessing work on farms can be very difficult for UK residents who have had no previous connection with the industry. Now, thanks to the efforts of HOPS, LANTRA, the NFU, Job Centre Plus, agricultural colleges and around 200 farms across the UK, this is all about to change.

“A new education and training programme is piloting in Worcestershire before the programme rolls out across the Midlands and the whole of the UK, creating potentially hundreds of jobs. Worcestershire is the first county to host this exciting scheme and there are more than 200 jobs waiting to be filled.”

HOPS already places around 11,000 people into positions at its 200 client farms across the UK each year, jobs that include harvesters, packers, team leaders, supervisors, line leaders, machinery operators, tractor drivers, spraying drivers, and a range of administration, technical and managerial roles.

“The horticulture and agriculture industry is seeing a revolution in recruitment that has resulted in this amazing opportunity for anyone in the UK looking for a change in career, a job with real prospects, or a new start, “ Mrs Savage added. “The jobs are well paid, have great opportunity for progression and contribute a key part to the British and International food chain. Workers will be employed by farms such as The Co-Operative who supply fruit and vegetables to many UK supermarkets. Many workers can go on to earn up to £30,000 within a couple of years.”

Jobs are available to anyone who is 19+ and currently claiming Jobs Seekers or Employment Support Allowance. Candidates can find out more about the jobs by calling 02476 698010 or by visiting hopsls.com