Digital Dairy Chain

Meet the team…Lynne Somerville

What is your role in the Digital Dairy Chain team?

My role is to lead the ‘Workforce of the Future’ which will aid the project in transforming and delivering against how the dairy sector and supply chain workforce is attracted and retained. We will establish a skills forum and conduct an audit and mapping exercise to understand the landscape where we are currently and where we need to be in terms of training provision and education policy to support the dairy sector over the next 10-25 + years..

What led you to become involved in the skills sector?

Over my career, I have worked mainly in the private sector, in both large and small organisations. I also worked for myself on a few occasions in a start-up environment, during which time I worked on several contracts specific to the education sector in Scotland and the Middle East. Since joining the education sector full-time five years ago, I have worked with industry to aid in bridging skills gaps and to help organisations to attract and retain talent, supported by the suite of post-school entry qualifications up to and including MSc level programmes.

Why is getting young talent into the dairy industry critical?

It is vital that the next generation consider a career in the dairy sector, not just for economic reasons and to ensure our dairy farmers can stay in business but so that the UK’s dairy sector can compete in international markets.

Our dairy farmers are struggling to attract and retain the workforce they need to be operational, let alone think about what they need to be able to grow their business or be innovative.

We need to work together to safeguard this sector. The implications of us not doing so will have a significant impact both on our economy and on future generations.

Who is your gold standard for a business that makes the most of developing its people, and why?

An organisation that will train and empower its staff to develop their skills and grow in their roles, regardless of knowing there is a chance they will leave, is the gold standard that speaks to the culture of the organisation and its leadership team.

I completely understand why employers are hesitant to invest and train employees in case they leave. I know, however, that when businesses take the time to treat their employees like they truly value them and are made to feel they are making a meaningful contribution, they stay committed to that business.

What are the potential opportunities for someone changing career to work in the dairy industry?

There is the opportunity for a person to progress their career to senior management level on a dairy farm. The dairy sector welcomes young persons or those who are older but who are looking for a career change.

There are many types of roles and career paths available, It depends on where the person’s interests lie, for example, a person could work in a role specific to herd health and well-being, with the onset of robotics and autonomous systems the rise of engineering skills in the sector is also in demand or if the person is not so hands-on but more analytical, they could, for example, opt for a career analysing the information collected from the herd or milk to make recommendations as to how the cows could live a happier, healthier life and or how processes could be improved.

What do you do outside work to relax, decompress and have fun?

I like the simple things. I walk and run with my dog daily, with the occasional hike and exercise class flung in for good measure. To relax, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, especially where food is involved!

If you’re interested in speaking with Lynne about skills and development or how you can arrange training for your team in the dairy industry, please email lynne.somerville@uws.ac.uk