A key finding of our Economic Impact Study of the British thoroughbred breeding industry, the results of which are about to be released, has confirmed that breeders make a major contribution to the UK economy by supporting almost 10,000 jobs – 3,500 of those directly on stud farms and the majority of them in the rural sector. Consequently, it is important that we have a recruitment, training and education strategy that enables us to give breeders access to the latest information and knowledge to enable them to maintain standards of horse welfare, and that the industry is supported to recruit, train and retain sufficient numbers of employees.

With its compulsory stable staff register, data on racing’s workforce is far more accessible than that of the breeding industry

In line with this aspiration I recently reported on the BHA’s desire to unite racing and breeding industry recruitment, training and education under one banner, to assist with accessing sufficient funding from the Levy Board and other organisations. In recent months, implementation of this BHA strategy has begun to take shape, with the core areas of action for the TBA being recruitment and careers, grassroots development, and vocational training and development.

Underpinning all of this is a need to understand the size and shape of our current workforce, to help us to plan future recruitment and training activity. With its compulsory stable staff register providing up-to-date information on gender, age, source and movement of employees, data on racing’s workforce is far more accessible than that of the breeding industry. The breeding industry has no such employee register, and if we are to provide an appropriate service to members and align with racing to maximise funding opportunities, we need to find a way of gathering such information.

The TBA has therefore opted to conduct its own workforce analysis project to gather baseline data that can be analysed in tandem with stable staff information, and used to identify how best to capture such data more regularly in future.

In the coming months a selected sample of employers will be invited to participate in a workforce recruitment, employment and training survey. Joe Grimwade, the TBA’s Education and Employment Committee Chairman, will conduct the survey using a mixture of questionnaires and telephone and face-to-face interviews, with source information remaining confidential. The data we aim to collect includes total numbers and demographics of the workforce, as well as turnover, competencies, staffing levels and job roles, with the results being analysed to plan recruitment, employee retention, training and development projects.

The survey will also provide employers with an opportunity to give us their views on existing training provision and what they would like to see in terms of future courses, seminars and educational events organised and supported by the TBA. We have already been working closely with the National Stud to identify and plan a series of one-day courses for those new to the industry. This is in response to demand from our newer members and the events held to date have met with universal approval.

Our annual seminar takes place in July this year and is once again free to members – more details to follow ­– and the TBA’s Annual Stud Farming Course held in December regularly attracts a number of employees and owners who wish to bring their knowledge right up to date.

Success in the breeding industry requires a unique blend of practical skills and complex high-level knowledge. For the welfare of the horses in our care it is important that we maintain our own professional development and that of our staff to enable us to run effective and sustainable businesses that provide future employment.

If you are an employer it is likely that we will be in touch with you soon asking for your help to carry out this survey and we hope that you will be willing to spare us a little time in order that we can help you, your staff and your horses to benefit from industry recruitment, training and education activities in the future.