Breeders throughout the UK are facing a severe staffing crisis. To avert it, we need to recognise that recruitment, retention and training are very closely linked.

At present, recognised stud staff training is mainly undertaken by the British Stud Staff Training Scheme (BSSTS), managed by The National Stud, and although the BSSTS is well respected, it is generally accepted that training for the breeding industry is not as advanced as it is for racing.

This may be one reason why there are not enough potential staff members coming through to meet the breeding industry’s current and future needs.

When financial concerns (the BSSTS usually runs at a significant annual deficit that is, fortunately, subsidised by The National Stud) are added to the mix, it quickly becomes obvious that breeders must act now if future staff members with the right skills are to be found.

As a result, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) has joined forces with the British Horseracing Training Board and The National Stud to secure stopgap funding from the Horserace Betting Levy Board to cover the forecast shortfall for this year’s BSSTS.

We have also negotiated a further grant to enable theindustry to conduct a training needs and recruitment survey of studs throughout the country.

Clearly, these issues will not go away and owners need to understand that they cannot expect their bloodstock to be kept at close to cost prices while staff prove hard to attract and retain.

As one well known stud manager said to me recently: “No stud can afford to delegate responsibility for recruitment and training if it wants to secure good staff.”

The industry as a whole needsto do more to ensure that potential employees are aware of the advantages of moving into the Thoroughbred breeding sector.

Links to colleges, schools, career offices and employment agencies can be initiated by individual studs locally, and will pay dividends over a period of time.

Studs also need to realise that, after initial training and recruitment, providing further opportunity for their staff to develop their skills is a key way in which they can ensure talented people remain within their establishment.

For more information about the British Stud Staff Training Scheme visit: www.thoroughbredbreedersassociation.co.uk

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