‘We need to make working with horses attractive’: organisations join forces on good employment

  • THERE is a push for good employment practice in the equestrian industry – and the major governing bodies are throwing their support behind it.

    The Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) has joined forces with British Dressage (BD), British Eventing (BE), British Showjumping (BS), the British Horse Society, British Equestrian, the Association of British Riding Schools, Horsescotland and Haddon Training for the annual Good Employment Week, from 14–18 November.

    EEA founder Lucy Katan told H&H the ultimate aim is to make the equestrian industry one in which good employment is a given.

    “We want it to be the standard and the industry a good place for people to work,” she said, adding that she thinks the tide is slowly turning, away from the bad practices that have been evident.

    “We used to see a lot of adverts offering illegal employment,” she said. “We’re seeing less of that now, although we know it’s still out there. Things are moving forward, but we’re not there yet. This week is about raising awareness and inspiring employers to be legal, fair and compliant – the EEA is there to help with achieving this status.”

    During the week, educational content will be provided for employers and staff on what “good” looks like, addressing challenges and giving practical solutions. The focus will be on the links between positive employment practices, increased productivity and business viability.

    Key themes include contracts, employment status, recruiting and retaining staff, business viability and sustainability.

    BE chief executive Helen West told H&H: “We are delighted, at BE, to be part of the good employment week campaign being driven by the EEA. Raising awareness of the pivotal role that support staff play in the success of the sport and those within it, along with the business continuity they offer their employers under their diligent care, cannot be underestimated.

    “As employers, we all need to embrace this responsibility and ensure that we are not only employing staff within the legal requirement but also ensuring they feel valued, inspired and encouraged to make their career choice with longevity in mind.”

    H&H has reported extensively on the staffing crisis facing the equestrian industry and what action can be taken to attract and retain good employees.

    BD chief executive Jason Brautigam told H&H that providing a positive employment experience is “essential if we are to attract the highest calibre of individuals to work within the equine sector”.

    “Good employment practices, supported by quality training, education and development, is also vital to retain the best staff, who have the right skills, knowledge, and experience,” he said.

    “BD has recently launched apprenticeship-based education routes in both horse management and business, with added value qualifications and workplace experiences. BD is committed to supporting employers by providing apprenticeship placements through the scheme, to achieve the best practice standards included in the EEA code of good employment.

    “We continue to work closely with the EEA and other industry partners to promote working environments in dressage that offer the same high standards that we aim to achieve as employers ourselves.”

    BS chief executive Iain Graham agreed that having good employment practices help encourage and retain the best people.

    “That’s grooms, yard managers and all the roles our industry needs,” he told H&H. “We’ve probably noticed a reduction in the number of people from Europe [since Brexit], so it’s even more important we keep hold of the good people we’ve got.

    “As a governing body, it’s important we support initiatives like this that raise awareness of bad practices in our industry.”

    The week will end with the annual “Give your staff a pizza day”, on 18 November, when all employers are encouraged to celebrate their staff.

    EEA president Tullis Matson said:  “It is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that employment practices within the equestrian industry meet legal requirements, plus adhere to best practice. Together we need to make working with horses an attractive career choice and in turn achieve a sustainable workforce.”

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