5 reasons why the equine industry needs Apprentice Grooms!
The equine industry is a tough place to carve out a career sometimes. It’s both physically and mentally demanding and without career development sometimes you can feel stuck in a rut. With a good employer, Apprenticeships are a great way move your career forward by gaining on the job knowledge and qualifications. Do read our 5 reasons why the equine industry needs Apprentice Grooms!
1. The equine industry needs more professional grooms
It’s reasonable to conclude that the equine industry is not always seen by many as a credible career pathway, particularly at the less than glamorous levels. Many’s a groom has been heard to say they left the industry to pursue “a proper job”, which is depressing to hear and something we are working very hard to address!
Well known equestrian blogger, professional Dressage Groom and Head Girl Kate Harley says, “Although it’s become more of a celebrated and respected career which is fantastic, I think we need to be aware that it doesn’t become too ‘glamorised’ if you like, it’s important to educate the next generation of grooms on what the job really is like to hopefully help them to become the next award-winning groom. We can’t ignore the fact that it is a tough industry to make a career in, it’s both very physically and mentally demanding. Apprenticeships are a great way to gain on the job knowledge and qualifications, a great groom is worth their weight in gold and to work with one is invaluable if you want a career as a groom.”
You can read Kate Harley’s blog in full, “Is the Equestrian Industry Getting Tougher or are Grooms Getting Lazier? Is Grooming a Real Career?“, by clicking here.
2. Apprenticeships introduce new grooms to the industry in the right way
One reason the equine industry needs Apprentice Grooms is that it encourages grooms by giving them the framework and support to see their learning period through to the end by:
- giving formal, structure training, rather than leaving grooms at the mercy of their teammates helping them bridge gaps in their knowledge and abilities
- defining a set training period, usually of 12-18 months depending on the course and level they’re completing
- awarding a nationally recognised qualification upon successful completion of the course
Even if a would-be groom has very limited experience with horses they can explore the possibility of a career in the equine industry by starting out on a Traineeship before embarking on an Apprenticeship course.
When grooms don’t receive the career development they desire within their job role they can be inclined to “hop” from job to job looking for opportunities to further their knowledge, skills and experience. This almost always has a very negative impact on their “employability” and future career choices – grooms with a solid career history will always have the pick of the jobs and can command a higher salary.
You can read more on developing a solid career history by clicking here.
3. Too many grooms lack specialised knowledge and skills
Some yards and job roles only require grooms to facilitate the day-to-day functions of an equine establishment, but many require a far more focused, specialised approach.
As equine recruitment specialists, we regularly see equine CVs consisting of numerous short stays in what should have been permanent jobs, in a variety of disciplines and industry sectors. We also speak to employers who are struggling to find experienced or senior grooms who are adequately experienced within their industry sector. There are many equine job seekers, desperate for a good job, who know a little bit about a lot but don’t know a lot about any one thing in particular!
An equine apprenticeship can help such grooms focus their equine career on an industry sector that they enjoy, with the support and advice of a good training provider, and get into a position to secure and succeed in those desirable job roles. In turn, the equine industry will benefit from grooms who, rather than take the ‘butterfly’ approach in the false belief they are career-building, have focused their training on a specific industry sector via pre-planned structured training.
Read more about how an apprenticeship can benefit your career by clicking here.
4. Too many grooms leave the equine industry disheartened
Another issue that impacts the equine industry is the number of grooms who leave the industry as a career at quite a young age. It’s reasonable to conclude the pool of experienced grooms wanting to remain working with horses and available to us is diminishing as the years pass. There are also many other well-documented reasons exacerbating this worrying ‘shrinkage’ such as burdensome workloads, remuneration, illegal employment practises etc.
One not much talked about issue is the lack of opportunity to grow and develop new skills within a job role – the employer gets what they need from their groom and, as long as said groom fulfils that need, the employer is happy. However, over time, the groom may feel a little stagnant – we all like to feel we are moving forward right? The “itchy feet” syndrome kicks in and, BOOM… all is not so rosy in the garden! All too often, once a job is mastered and becomes second nature, grooms feel they have to move on in order to gain increases in job satisfaction. It is the human condition, we all want to be stretched and feel we are progressing not just standing still. It has become very common and accepted (with reasonable tenure), as a genuine explanation for grooms moving on from a job. Even if a yard doesn’t have the capacity to give their grooms room to grow, there is often opportunity for a groom to gain formal, nationally recognised qualifications via an apprenticeship within that job role, making it worthwhile to the groom to stay put without the loss of opportunity and lack of motivation achievable by stretching oneself.
The Working Pupil debate rages… there sometimes seems to be an ‘opportunistic’ lack of understanding of the legal implications of taking on a trainee from some employers, and for others is a genuine mistake when the term “Working Pupil” is used to describe an ‘informal apprenticeship’ in the literal sense of the word. All we can say on the matter is that, in employment law terms, there is no such thing as an informal, unregulated/unsupported apprenticeship when it comes to training and remuneration. If an employer takes on an inexperienced groom to train themselves without structured training overseen by an official educational body, the “Working Pupil” is simply a trainee or Junior Groom, and the same National Minimum Wage and employment rights apply as an established groom. Despite this, we still see equine job vacancies advertised as “Working Pupil” roles, often with meagre/illegal salary packages made up with part salary and part unofficial training, with no formal qualification to show for it at the end. No matter how renowned an establishment or rider maybe, a groom being able to tell people they were trained at/by them is never a legal substitute for formal, nationally recognised qualifications and it is not a legally recognised apprenticeship these days. An official apprenticeship protects both the employer and employee from stumbling into difficult employment and legal situations and helps to avoid disappointments and disasters along the way.
If you’re an employer who would like to take on an Apprentice or trainee groom, or a job seeker looking for the opportunity to develop your career, please contact us to discuss the options available to you. You can also find lots of information for employers, learners and parents in our Apprentice Zone.
5. Equine employers should encourage career development within the equine industry
It cannot be ignored that equine employers need to “do their bit” for the future of the equine industry by providing grooms with credible, legitimate training and career growth opportunities within their roles. It’s very easy to focus on the need for an experienced groom who can hit the ground running in a new job, but unless career-minded grooms are nurtured and given the opportunity to grow in the right way, the available pool of good candidates is only going to diminish further as years pass. We need to do more now within our industry to harness the alternative, emerging source of Grooms/Riders for the future. Working together, to validate becoming a groom as a credible and constructive career choice, we can make the future brighter for ourselves, our yards, our horses and of course future generations of equestrians.
You can read more about how an Apprentice Groom can benefit your yard by clicking here.
The future of the equine industry
Apprentices are a lifeblood of the equine industry and the ins and outs of employing them needs much more consideration than they currently get – the yard junior, the trainee and of course the official and safeguarded version of the “working pupil”, the apprentice groom, are the future. What we all invest today could reverse the sometimes depressing current trends in the equine industry for tomorrow.
THE EQUESTRIAN INDUSTRY DESPERATELY NEEDS PEOPLE LIKE YOU!
Visit our Apprentice Zone to find out more about taking on or becoming an Apprentice Groom in the equine industry by clicking here.