Up until a few weeks ago, 34-year-old Matt Traver from Kent worked for a small business in the adventure travel industry, arranging bespoke trekking trips to various destinations around the world.
Now, after being laid off due to Covid-19, he’s started work on a farm in Kent to pick asparagus.
“It was definitely a relief to see there was a quick option to supplement my income,” said Matt who applied for a harvesting role after he’d seen news about the shortage of seasonal labour. “There’s clearly a need for the nation to be fed so there’s a good opportunity to help the country and my income.”
Matt hasn’t worked on a farm before but said he’s not afraid of hard work and is keen to do a role outside – especially during the threat of Covid-19.
“I have spent far too much time in front of a computer for a number of years, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be able to work out in the fresh air. It’s something I have wanted to do for quite a while,” said Matt who says he is generally an active person.
While these types of roles have always been open to people living in Britain, when the NFU analysed the sector in 2016, only 1.5% of workers were from the UK. While employment rates have been relatively high, crop harvesting has not been a popular option for people in the UK, until now.
“I get the feeling a lot of people aren’t as attracted to physical type jobs as they used to be and as more people live in cities and further from rural areas, it’s more difficult to commute,” said Matt who is willing to put the effort into his new role and has committed to a three-week trial period and hopefully, if successful, a contract until June.
While Matt lives in a rural area, close to farms, he still thinks finding a job on one of them without the support of HOPS would have been difficult.
“Working with HOPS has been super smooth,” said Matt. “Their communication and the information I have been given is really precise and very thorough. Without HOPS it would make the process of finding a position on a farm a lot more time intensive and a lot less efficient from my perspective.”
Matt is maintaining a positive attitude about his new situation and is open to it possibly leading him in a new career direction.
“My family think it’s great and they are happy for me to be productive and do something beneficial. It will be interesting to see where it leads. It’s kind of funny as my dad’s ancestors are all farmers from the American mid-west so maybe I have it in my blood, I hope.”