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Back to the land? School campaign promotes traditional jobs

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A row of fields at Deadwood
Fields of dreams? Young people could work the land again on St Helena

A campaign is being launched to make traditional work such as fishing and farming more attractive to young people on St Helena.

The Traditional Industries Campaign is to be tied in with teaching at Prince Andrew School. At the same time, a new policy to modernise apprenticeships is being developed by Enterprise St Helena (ESH).

Colin Moore wants to inspire future workers

The campaign was prompted by concern from the island’s education director, Colin Moore, about lack of interest from young people in such jobs.

Former governor Andrew Gurr had voiced the same worry in a talk to the Friends of St Helena in May 2012. He said: “The boys don’t want to go out in the fields and work, so there are all those lovely fields out at Longwood that haven’t been used for years.”

He said Saints needed to rediscover the desire to produce food on the island, rather than importing it – recalling the island’s history of supplying provisions for sailing ships. 

Shelco, the company promoting an eco resort at Broad Bottom, has declared its intention to source most of the produce it needs on the island – including from its own kitchen gardens.

And Stuart Planner of Enterprise St Helena has spoken of a scheme to restore the market building in Jamestown so it can be used to sell fresh, island-produced food.

Fifty years ago, Saints lived off the land. Picture: Bob Johnson

The campaign also follows an initiative by St Helena National Trust to revive traditional building skills, in order to restore the island’s many historic buildings using appropriate techniques.

Tammy Williams, of Enterprise St Helena has begun seeking support from people already working in traditional fields.

One of the challenges will be to make the work more appealing to young people in the age of the internet.

The ESH newsletter notes “the integral part traditional industries have played in shaping our history and heritage, but recognises that a progressive and innovative approach is required to engage young people.”

Changing mindsets will help the island’s economic development, it says.

Training will come under several headings: construction, fishing, agriculture, arts and crafts, hospitality, and Other Career Opportunities – covering new work skills that will be needed as a result of the island getting an airport.

Tammy said: “Support from those in the various sectors is vital to energise and inspire young people.

“We need positive role models: people who are passionate about their work, and people who can share their expertise and experience, to make the campaign a success.”

People who have “something to offer” are asked to email or call 2920.

Consultation meetings on the proposed apprenticeships policy will be held on August 6 and 7 at the Consulate Hotel. A draft copy can be obtained by emailing

Andrew Gurr on farming and work culture
Endemics for sale: St Helena’s new cash crop

Enterprise St Helena

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