Given the fast increase of the number of non-racing farms in Central Kentucky in the past several years, it was evident from industry discussion that workforce needs in that sub-sector were also rising. Using personal meetings with multiple farms a collaborative group of ten employers was formed. After discussion and the knowledge that many employers had a second facility out of state, it became apparent that upper management, in the form of assistant farm managers, was the most critical position needed for their businesses to operate at full force.
Using the demand planning strategy, it was found that 22 assistant manager positions would be needed over a two-year period. Through group discussion the key hurdle was not the lack of a pool of qualified applicants but being able to source those individuals and qualify the skills they were said to possess. For these reasons, the group decided to navigate two avenues: creating an equine specific hiring tool in the form of a website/smart phone app and while simultaneously developing a credential to certify individuals in their skills.
As of May 2020, the equine specific hiring tool is in the works. The group choose to work with an outside entity to develop a smart phone app in which employers could post positions and individuals could use multiple avenues within the app to search and apply for positions. This app will have built in features to make sure positions listed are up to date and active as well as notify both employers and job seekers of opportunities.
The group also did research into creating an industry credential specific to farm management positions and was pleased to learn about the Certified Horsemanship Association’s Equine Farm Management certification. This is an industry certification already established specifically for farm management. Working with CHA, the collaborative group organized the first certification clinic in Kentucky and although COVID-19 required postponing the originally April scheduled clinic, it is on the books for November of 2020.