Agriculture in the United Kingdom uses 71% of the country's land area and employs 1.5% of its workforce (472,000 people).
The agri-food sector in the United Kingdom accounts for a total estimated Gross Value Added (GVA) of £127bn or 6.4% of national GVA according to the UK Government report: Agriculture in the UK 2020.
Within the agriculture sector there are a huge range of opportunities for graduates of all degree disciplines to contribute from farm to fork.
Other life science sub-sectors you may wish to explore further are:
Explore the sector
What employers and roles are on offer in this sector? Includes podcast
Typical employers in this sub-sector include:
Farms and agricultural contractors
The National Farmers Union website produces and job vacancy database, and a directory of relevant organisations.
Various Government departments and bodies focus on different areas of the agri-food industry:
Research institutions and organisations
Agri-food is a fast-paced industry facing a range of environmental and consumer-related issues that require innovative research solutions.
- Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a scheme where graduates work with an academic or research organisation to support a UK business on a specific project focused on innovation for 12 – 36 months, Innovate UK list vacancies and have a ‘landscape map’ showing funders, innovation centres, networks and research & training programmes.
- Viewing the relevant agri-food vacancies on Jobs.ac.uk will give you an idea of the various research organisations and departments.
- ADAS is the UK's largest independent provider of agricultural and environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice.
- Government list of centres for agricultural innovation (including Agrimetics, crop health, livestock and agricultural engineering). Each website this leads to is different, but navigating will lead to opportunities and/or lists of institutions and organisations involved.
- One of Europe’s leading Biotech clusters is based around the Cambridge area, with several research and industrial organisations close together.
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) supports research, people and institutions.
- Agri-Tech East is an organisation that brings together farmers, food producers, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs with an aim to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture. A list of member organisations can be accessed via the website.
Visit Tasty Careers for a detailed list of job descriptions, both graduate and non-graduate, across the industry.
There are also several relevant job profiles in the Environmental and agriculture sector on the Prospects website including:
Demand for specialist roles that combine disciplines is growing, for example using bioinformatics to analyse data and programming skills for simulations.
Prospects - Graduate opportunities in agriculture
Sainsbury's 'From cow to customer' video
How do I find a job?
While there are specialist degrees available, many of the roles across the agri-food industry will be relevant to those with a biology, chemistry, engineering or healthcare-related degree.
You may find that a masters qualification is an advantageous way to build your specialist knowledge, particularly if the role you wish to apply for is a technical one.
For research roles, a PhD may be required.
Specific skills will vary between different jobs, but a career in this industry is likely to require the following:
- The ability to formulate and communicate ideas
- Negotiating, marketing skills to support new product/business development
- Role-specific technical and analytical skills
- The ability to conduct work safely and ethically, and to explain it clearly
- Strong communications skills – able to work collaboratively with colleagues and to build effective relationships with customers/clients
- Enthusiasm and commitment
Large recruiters such as supermarkets or Government departments will have clearly defined and well-advertised graduate recruitment processes, often starting their recruitment in the autumn term, prior to graduation for roles starting the following summer.
Smaller organisations such as specialist retailers, research consultancies, agricultural businesses, etc, are more likely to recruit as demand arises.
Specialist recruitment agencies and job boards include:
Jobs section searchable by type of job
Agricultural & Farming Jobs
One of the sector's specialist jobs boards
Advertises research roles within the agri-food industry
More People - recruitment agency covering the fresh food, horticulture, agriculture and garden industry sectors
De Lacy – recruitment agency in global agricultural recruitment
How do I find work experience?
To identify the most relevant experience for the particular role that interests you, view job descriptions and vacancy details, and talk to recruiters or individuals working in within your chosen part of the industry.
Networking can be a valuable way of getting a foot in the door. Start by asking for advice and then build up to exploring opportunities for practical experience.
If you are interested in the agricultural production side of the industry, gaining experience on a farm will be beneficial
For those who are considering new product development, experience in market research or a food retail environment will raise your awareness of consumers and their needs
If you want to work in a research environment, finding a vacation placement or internship in a relevant department will enhance your future applications. Approach Nottingham academics who work in the relevant areas of research to ask if there are any summer opportunities. There are also sponsored opportunities and funding for summer research placements, visit:
Get involved at Nottingham - enhance your job prospects