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Environmental and Land-based

The Job Market


Land based industries in general...

  • There are around 230,000 businesses (9% of all businesses across the UK) in total in the UK land based industries
  • 96% of these businesses employ fewer than 10 people.
  • Around 1,126,000 people (4% of the UK’s workforce) are employed in the sector with as many as 500,000 volunteers also working on a regular basis.
  • Approximately 42% of the workforce are self-employed.
  • Of those employed, 79% work full time, compared to 75% in the UK economy as a whole
  • The sector has an ageing workforce - one in twelve (8%) of all workers are over 65, compared to 2% across the economy as a whole. 
  • The sectors workforce is predominantly male (69%) compared to 55% nationally, although the gender balance is more equal in environmental conservation (Lantra Skills Assessment Report, 2009).
  • Employment is concentrated in skilled trade occupations (such as farmer, stockman, greenkeeper, groundsman) which account for a third of all employment; and elementary occupations (such as farm worker) which account for a quarter. There is also a significant proportion of people employed as managers.
  • Employment in the sector has fallen by 24% since 1997.
  • The proportion of workers employed in high-skilled occupations has risen from 16% in 1997 to 20% in 2007 and is forecast to rise to 23% by 2017.
  • Overall, the proportion of workers employed in low-skilled occupations has decreased from 37% in 1997 to 34% in 2007 and is forecast to decrease further to 31% by 2017.
  • The biggest industry by number of employees is agricultural livestock followed by landscape, agricultural crops, production horticulture, environmental conservation and equine.
  • 87% of agriculture, forestry and fisheries-based industries are in rural areas. However, some industries, such as floristry, horticulture and landscaping, have a more urban focus.



  • In the UK there are approximately 30,000 agricultural crops businesses, the majority of which are situated in England, particularly in regions on the eastern side of the country.
  • The industry employs approximately 143,000 people
  • 97% of all businesses employ less than 10 people and the remaining 3% employ up to 49 workers maximum.
  • 41% of people working are 50 years or more. 
  • Employment is dominated by men, with 81% of workers being male
  • Full time staff account for 83% of total employment (national average 75%)
  • A high proportion (56%) of the workforce is self-employed (national average 13%)


  • In the UK there are approximately 94,000 agricultural livestock businesses, with the majority situated in England.
  • The industry employs approximately 315,300 people
  • 98% of these businesses employ less than 10 staff.
  • Agricultural statistics group livestock into 4 main groups, these are:
    • Cattle - 24,485 businesses in the UK (33% of livestock businesses)
    • Sheep and Lambs - 44,145 businesses (60% of all livestock businesses)
    • Pigs - 1,115 business in the UK (2% of livestock businesses)
    • Poultry - 2,605 business in the UK (4% of livestock businesses)

There are also 27,000 ‘mixed farms’ across the UK who may combine the farming of one or more of the above livestock within other activities.

Employers experience difficulties in recruiting in agriculture.  A study by the Institute for Grocery Distribution (Farmers Skills 2008) highlighted that farming does not typically attract people from a non-farming or rural background. Problems may be exacerbated as in the future the people the sector will require higher level skills and there is a very high proportion of the workforce who are expect to retire over the next 10 years. 

About 50 per cent of farms in the UK supplement traditional incomes through farm diversification (Agriculture in the UK 2008, Defra). Diversification into novel and niche products to develop higher returns is also a growing trend (eg. rare breed meat, venison, vineyards, energy crops).

Sources: Lantra  and  IDBR 2008 / Defra, Agriculture in the UK, 2008

 Agricultural Technical Advisor/Consultants

  • Technical occupations currently represent only a small proportion of agriculture at just over two per cent. Demand for these technical roles is expected to increase over the coming years.
  • There are opportunities for technical advisors/consultants throughout the country. The Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS), a consultancy to land-based industries, employs many agricultural technical advisors/consultants. Independent firms of consultants also employ agricultural advisors/consultants.
  • Many farm consultancy firms will offer development schemes for graduates or assistant farm consultants. This enables them to be trained and work towards becoming a farm consultant by gaining experience in analysing farm accounts, technical specialisms and sales and marketing.

Farm Manager/Workers

  • Most jobs are in rural areas and so transport can be a problem – some farms offer accommodation as part of the job
  • Agriculture in general has an extremely high level of vacancies that are hard to fill –some are temporary and seasonable and have been filled in recent years by migrant workers, for example hand-picking crops when they are ready for harvesting
  • There is also now a greater demand for reliable, responsible and motivated people who can combine technical knowledge with practical skills
  • Farm managers may own their own farms or work for large estates, large food-producing companies, agricultural colleges, and scientific research institutes or public organisations.

 Production Horticulture

  • Production horticulture is about the large scale production and selling of fruit, vegetables, plants, flowers and nursery stock.  It also includes garden centres.
  • There are 7,745 production horticulture businesses within the UK.
  • Most businesses are in England (6,818), particularly in the South East, South West and East of England.
  • The industry employs approximately 83,000 people, with almost 76,000 of those employed within England.
  • There are about 1,200 garden centers in the UK. Most garden centres employ from 30 to 200 staff and extensive on-the-job training is standard across the industry. A degree in horticulture remains the most popular route into garden-centre retailing at supervisory and management positions
  • Micro businesses, employing less than 9 staff, account for 89% of businesses.  1% of employees are employed in business with 50 -249 employees
  • Full time staff account for 83% of total employment (national average 75%)
  • A high proportion (56%) of the workforce is self-employed (national average 13%)

Source: Labour force survey (Jan-Sept 2008)

Environmental Conservation...

  • In the UK there are approximately 3,250 environmental conservation businesses, with around 2,400 being situated in England.
  • The industry employs approximately 23,000 people, with approximately 17,000 of those being employed within England
  • There are also around a further 200,000 volunteers working in the industry.
  • Full-time staff account for 84% of total employment, compared to the national average of 75%
  • Part-time staff account for 16% of total employment, compared to the national average of 25%.
  • Around 27% of businesses within environmental conservation employ more than 10 people. This is greater than the overall proportion for the environmental and land-based sector.
  • 49% of adults are aged between 25 to 40 years; 24% of these people are over 50 years old
  • Men account for 60% of employment compared to 54% across all sectors within UK
  • Those from a white ethnic group make up 97% of the workforce compared to 91% across all sectors within UK.
  • An estimated 200,000 volunteers work for varying periods of time in the conservation sector.

 Sources: Experian data (figs rounded to nearest 50) / Labour Force Survey (LFS, 2008) Volunteers Skills Research (Lantra, 2008)

Countryside Officers/Rangers

  • There are over 5,700 countryside officers/rangers within the UK. In addition  many people work as volunteers.
  • Employers include local government and national agencies, including Natural England, and local authorities including National Park Authorities. Charitable trusts, such as the Woodland Trust and the National Trust also have paid and voluntary positions.
  • The number of people working in this area is expected to grow each year and opportunities can be found in both urban and rural areas all over the UK. However, competition for paid work is intense and experience is essential.

Education and Interpretation Officers

  • Employers include organisations such as the National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
  • There are also opportunities in local government departments, National Park Authorities, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in organisations such as the Forestry Commission, English Heritage and Natural England.
  •  Access into paid positions has been traditionally through a volunteer route with one or more of the above organisations. The organisation looks for commitment over a period of time in exchange for good training options and role responsibilities that will provide volunteers with the skills and experience needed to undertake the role as an employee.

Game and Wildlife Industry

  • In England there are approximately 11,450 businesses in the Game and Wildlife industry.
  • Many of the people working in the industry are volunteers or employed on a part-time/ seasonal basis. When converted to full-time equivalents, there are 24,000 FTE employment in the industry in England.
  • Most businesses in the sector are small. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation research estimates that the average provider organisation has 19 paid workers (or 3.2 FTEs) and 3 volunteers/unpaid workers (or 0.4 FTEs).
  • There is more demand for game – with many supermarkets now selling game such as venison or pheasant.
  • Full-time jobs are being shed in favour of short term contract based employment. Self employment is becoming a key factor.
  • An aging workforce is also causing concern for long term stability.

Horticulture, Landscaping and sports turf

  • There are approximately 16,650 horticulture, landscaping and sports turf businesses within the UK.
  • The majority of businesses are in England (14,400), with a high proportion in the South East of England.
  • The industry employs around 172,000 people, with 154,500 of those employed within England.
  • Around 81% of businesses employ fewer than 10 people, with 44% of the workforce being self-employed.
  • Adults over the age of 40 (60%); 36% are over 50
  • Men account for 88% of employment (54% across all sectors within UK)
  • Those from a white ethnic group make up 99% of the workforce (91% across all sectors within UK).
  • Full-time staff account for 79% of total employment (the national average is 75%)
  • Part-time staff account for 21% of total employment (the national average is 25%)
  • 44% of the workforce is self-employed (the national average is 13%).

Source: Labour force survey (Jan-Sept 2008)


  • Around 170,000 people work in gardening and horticulture in the UK, including those who work as groundsmen and greenkeepers.
  • Employers include local authorities, private companies and contractors, developers, voluntary sector organizations, sports clubs, theme parks, universities, colleges and large industrial companies, plant nurseries, heritage organisations such as the National Trust and private individuals.
  • Gardening itself is becoming more popular, leading to greater demand for gardening services. Many local authorities contract out their gardening and horticultural work to landscaping contractors.
  • Self-employment prospects are good, particularly in areas such as landscape maintenance, contracting and design.
  • There is keen competition for jobs.


  • There are around 15,000 greenkeepers working in the UK.
  • Employers include private golf clubs, local authority leisure departments which operate public golf courses, hotels with golf facilities and ground maintenance contractors.
  • Although entry to this career is competitive, opportunities are available throughout the UK and overseas.
  • Vacancies may be advertised on customer notice boards at golf courses as well as on the websites of local authorities and other employers. They also appear on specialist golf websites, such as and on the website of The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA).



  • In the UK there are approximately 530 aquaculture businesses, with around 220 being situated in England.
  • The industry employs approximately 3,150 people, with only around 800 of those being employed within England.
  • Automation in larger fish farms is pointing towards fewer but more highly skilled staff, with high levels of technical knowledge and skills.

Fisheries management

  • In England there are approximately 530 businesses, in the Fisheries Management industry.
  • The industry directly employs around 1,755 people.
  • 66% of businesses and clubs also make use of volunteers to sustain their activities.
  • most employers in fisheries management have other business activities in additon (e.g. large estates).
  • The average age of employees is 40 whilst only 9% are aged between 16-24 years.
  • 80% of the workforce are male.
  • Full-time staff account for only 59% of total employment
  • Part-time staff account for 21% of total employment
  • Seasonal workers account for 20% of total employment
  • Volunteers were used by 66% of businesses within the industry
  • The Environment Agency (EA) is the largest single employer of people in freshwater fisheries work in Britain. Other employers include the privatised water companies, the Department of the Environment (Defra) and individual private commercial fisheries.

Source: Lantra Skills and Labour Market Information for Fisheries Management Scotland (2004)

 Fish Farmers

  • Job opportunities are often in rural areas, mainly in southern and central England, North Yorkshire and southern, western and central Scotland. Salmon sea-cage farms are mainly located in Scotland.
  • Competitive industry with few job opportunities.
  • Fish farmers may work for private businesses and estates, angling organisations, garden centres specialising in aquatics, the Environment Agency and sometimes water supply companies.


  • There are about 12,650 animal care businesses in the UK, with around 10,700 being situated in England.
  • The industry employs approximately 78,000 people, with 66,600 of those employed within England
  • Almost three quarters of the animal care industry accounts for pet shops and pet supplies, boarding establishments, and dog clipping and grooming businesses.
  • Most businesses – 86% employ less than 5 people with only 3% employing more than 100.
  • Just over two fifths (43%) of business owners/managers are aged 35-44 years and one third (33%) of employees are aged 25-34
  • Women account for 71% of employment
  • 87% of the workforce are employed full-time and 13% part-time
  • Those from a white ethnic group make up 99% of employees and 100% of employers
  • 3% of employees and less than 1% of employers consider themselves to have a disability

Volunteers are a significant part of the workforce within the animal care industry. The Lantra animal care survey of employees revealed that just over one-fifth of paid employees had entered the animal care industry by a voluntary work placement. A report by the Cabinet Office found that 10% of all volunteers in England during 2006/07 participated in animal care activity; this represents a 7% increase since 1997. Volunteering to work with animals tends to involve either the practical, hands-on role (for example dog walking, re-homing animals, mucking out) or the ‘back-room’ duties such as fundraising, administration or helping in charity shops

Sources:  Experian,  Volunteers Skills Research, Lantra 2008 ,UK Wide Animal Care Survey, Lantra 2005, Cabinet Office, Helping Out: ‘A national survey of volunteering and charitable giving’, September 2007

 Animal Physiotherapists

  • Many animal physiotherapists are self-employed - based at home or in a small surgery, and travel to and from their clients' premises. Others are employed by animal hospitals and clinics and in larger veterinary practices throughout the UK.
  • Animal physiotherapy is a small profession but the number of animal physiotherapists is growing. There is strong competition for the work available.

Animal Technology

The animal technology industry is about the care and welfare of animals bred to be used in scientific research and the carrying out of authorised procedures. Research using animals in the UK comes under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and each year in Britain three million animals are used in scientific procedures. Over 80% of the animals used are rats or mice.

The industry is often portrayed in a negative light; however, animal research provides many benefits to society and to animals themselves. For example, 80% of the animals are used for medical, dental and veterinary research, which in turn informs the development of new drugs and vaccines to improve health and quality of life. The others are used for the protection of people e.g. workers in industry.

Animal Technologists/Technicians work in a variety of areas; universities, pharmaceutical companies, medical or veterinary colleges, teaching hospitals, research institutes, government departments (e.g. Defra), or for special laboratory animal breeders.

  •  In the UK there are currently:
    • 232 Home Office approved research establishments
    • An estimated 4,000 – 5,000 Animal Technologists
    • Around 30 Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers
    • Approx 14,500 Home Office personal license holders
  • In England employers are mostly based in the South East, the East, and London, though there are some major in vivo employers in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside.
  • Males account for just over half of the workforce at 56%
  • Only 7% of employers work part time
  • 33% of businesses reported employing casual staff
  • 31% of the workforce are aged between 25-34 years
  • Only 8% are estimated to be over 55 years of age.
  • Turnover in animal technology roles is typically around 5-10%.
  • about 70% of employers expect their in vivo workforce will either increase by at least 5% or remain stable over the next five to ten years.
  • Industrial employers believe that they will need to recruit between 140 and 280 animal technologists annually.
  • Many of those working in the education sector are also close to retirement age so a higher staff turnover is likely in the coming years as these staff are replaced.

Sources: Institute of Animal Technology (IAT), ABPI survey of in vivo employers (2007),The Home Office Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate Annual Report (2005 and 2007) Source: Lantra Sector Skills Agreement A synopsis of the issues within Animal Technology, Lantra (July 2008


  • In the UK there are approximately 3,450 equine businesses, with around 2,950 being situated in England.
  • The industry employs approximately 20,700 people, with only around 18,700 of those being employed within England.
  • The industry is dominated by micro-businesses with over half of businesses (53%) employ between 1 and 9 staff and 44.4% do not employ any staff.
  • The most common age band is 45 to 54 years for proprietors and 20 to 24 years for staff
  • Small businesses (especially riding stables) depend on a high degree of voluntary labour and payment in kind.

Source: National Surveys Database (2008), Experian


  • There are approximately 4,545 veterinary and ancillary businesses within the UK. The majority of businesses are in England (3,730).
  • The industry employs around 39,570 people, with 31,573 of those employed within England.
  • There are currently 4,036 practices and 7,783 Veterinary Nurses on the RCVS List (2008).
  • The majority – 72.2% of all practices employ less than 10 staff.
  • The industry workforce is young, with 25% aged 25-29. Of veterinary nurses, 56% are aged 20-29 years and 31% are aged 30-39.
  • Veterinary Surgeons tend to fall into an older age category with 27% aged 30-39 and 22% aged 40-49 years
  • The industry is dominated by female workers who account for 69% of all employees -this rises to 98% of veterinary nurses
  • The majority of the industry workforce (86%) are in full-time employment (37.5 hours or more, excluding on-call and overtime). 64% of veterinary nurses work full-time as do the majority of veterinary surgeons
  • The industry is dominated by employees (85%), 13% are self-employed, and 2% are on a government scheme
  • The number of veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons from an ethnic minority group is low, with 1% and 2% of employees respectively

Sources: The RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Nursing Profession 2008; British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNS)/ Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) Wages Survey, 2006; The UK Veterinary Profession 2006; Labour Force Survey 2007 *Official statistics are based on a standard Industrial Classification (SIC) called ‘Veterinary Activities’

Additional source for whole of job market section: Lantra AACS LMI report 2010