Next generation inspired to ‘Think Dairy’

Posted on 25 Apr 2024 by The Manufacturer

‘Dairy is much more than just milk’ – this was the take-home message for students who attended the Digital Dairy Chain’s inaugural ‘Think Dairy Careers Expo’ on 23 April.

The event was run in partnership with Harrison & Hetherington, at the Borderway Mart in Carlisle, to help address the skills shortage within the dairy industry.

Over 400 secondary school pupils from across Dumfries & Galloway and Cumbria experienced a highly interactive event and left with a taste of what working in the dairy sector could entail.

Exhibitors included national milk processors and local employers such as First Milk and Lactalis, as well as Paragon Vets, Cogent UK, Carrs Billington and training providers such as Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and LANTRA. Students were able to try everything from milk-based experiments to learn about the composition of milk to attempting to artificially inseminate a model cow.

To encourage the 13 to 17-year-olds to get curious about what a career in dairy involves, exhibitors were encouraged to reward good questions with ‘cow money’ – fake notes of various values that the pupils could either keep or pool together to make a cow-buying syndicate during the final event of the day, a mock cattle auction with live cows.

Donna Walton, from the Digital Dairy Chain’s project partner SmartSTEMs, said: “It was wonderful to welcome so many students from Cumbria and Dumfriesshire to the Think Dairy Expo. Students had the opportunity to explore a wide range of dairy STEM careers that are available on their doorstep.

“Exploring the myriad of career paths available, pupils gained insights from industry experts and discovered the skills and passion needed to thrive in this dynamic field. Whether they were drawn to the art of cheesemaking or the science of animal husbandry, the event demonstrated to them a range of careers that they may not have previously considered and all left – ‘Thinking about Dairy’. It was a great event and one that we hope to replicate again in the future.”

Laura Millar, Head of Strategic Projects & Communications with Harrison & Hetherington, said: “It was wonderful to see so many young people at this event discovering the possibilities of making a career in our fantastic dairy industry. “Dairy farming is very much leading the way in embracing new technology and transforming the sector for the future, and we are delighted to be able to help raise awareness and encourage interest from the next generation, who we hope will take dairying forward as a career choice.”

First Milk was one of the thirty exhibitors to take part in the event. Roger Briddock, Regenerative Programme Manager at First Milk, said: “First Milk is committed to creating opportunities for the next generation working in agriculture, whether on the farm, in the factory or across many other areas of the dairy sector. Being involved in this event is a great way to get young people interested and open their eyes to what our industry can offer them.”

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