Apprenticeships – ‘a clear pathway to progression’

Jay Barlow holding a chicken in a chicken shed

Photograph: Apprentice Jay Barlow

Fresh from finishing his apprenticeship at PD Hook Hatcheries, Jay Barlow explains how earning while you learn can help springboard your career in the farming industry. 

Jay Barlow, 18, has just completed an apprenticeship at PD Hook Hatcheries, a family-owned firm based in Cote, Oxfordshire, with rearing, breeding, hatching and growing operations throughout the UK.

Based at Rainsbutt Farm, in Crowle, Humberside, he began working weekends at the farm while he was still a school and began an apprenticeship as soon as he left, aged 16. He is now in full-time employment at the farm.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to work in the poultry industry,” Jay explained. “My grandad and dad are both managers, and I could see that it’s a good career with lots of opportunities so you can progress very well. When I was given the chance to do an apprenticeship, I made the most of it.”

Learning on the job

Jay enjoys looking after the birds, finding feeding and watering them particularly fulfilling, and says his apprenticeship has given him a wide range of learning experiences helping him to improve his communication skills and working as part of a team.

“It’s learning on the job, picking up knowledge as you go along, so it’s very practical and I feel like I’ve been progressing
well. I’ve had a lot of support, so it’s been really helpful.

“Eventually I would like to become an assistant manager and progress to managing my own farm. 

There’s a clear pathway through for people who want to progress their careers, take on responsibility and move into management.”

PD Hook Hatcheries Sales Director Fran Hook

“There are a lot of opportunities out there when you have the experience, so I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship if you want to enter the industry.”

Fran Hook is Sales Director at PD Hook Hatcheries. “We’ve been taking on apprentices since 2019 and we find it works well within our business,” Fran said.

“Whether it is rearing, breeding, hatching or broilers we have several different roles open to apprenticeships. If somebody applies for an apprenticeship, we will look for a suitable path for the individual to take. This ensures that the apprentice gains the experience and the knowledge they require, while also being a help to our business.”

“Apprenticeships are a great way of getting younger people interested in joining the business and we are keen to work with young people – we’re also happy to arrange university placements for students in their year out.

“We are keen to get the next generation onboard – it offers them good job opportunities and helps us to future-proof our business.”

Fran added that PD Hook Hatcheries had found the process of taking on apprentices smooth and straightforward, and said that apprenticeships offered great flexibility for workers, whatever their ambitions.

“There’s a clear pathway through for people who want to progress their careers, take on responsibility and move into management.

“There’s also a pathway for those who are simply looking for a job they’ll enjoy – people want different things out of their jobs and apprenticeships offer a good starting point for all individuals starting a career”.

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