As the recession deepens, final year high school and university students will be desperate for work.

Companies allied to farming could take on casual labour over the summer or interns for several months to give them work experience.

Dunedin’s AbacusBio has taken on 11 graduates this year for 10-14 weeks. Managing director Anna Campbell (p25) challenges other companies to do likewise. Why can’t bigger, nationwide companies take on 30 or more interns? They could be employed to help farmers with problems such as understanding how to operate accounting, farm management and environmental software programmes.

Students may lack the skills for many jobs on the farms and there are only so many times a mob of sheep need moving. However, what about jobs on the ‘must do one day’ list.

Health and safety will always be a concern, but it can be managed. I know of farmers who take on students and even put them through courses such as chainsaw safety and crutching/shearing.

Aussie farmers are reported to be employing many people from the cities. One with a large cropping and livestock operation offered 60 jobs. Apparently airline pilots make good combine drivers.

A townie friend of mine who had trouble finding a job in the late 1980s, always speaks fondly of the one and only time he worked on a farm. It was hard work at times, but he had a good employer. The job was not without incident. He and another worker were asked to shoot a horse which they did, but unfortunately next to a fence. They spent the rest of the week repairing the fence. My friend is a strong advocate of farming.

In the 1980s companies like Watties employed a lot of students over the summer break for harvesting and processing peas. Us farm boys were in demand for the field staff but Watties still needed drivers from town who got their first taste of farming. Most townies tended to go into the factory.

It was long hours, night shift as well, but the pay was great and we had a lot of laughs especially with the permanent staff.

Students can bring vitality, energy and fresh thinking to a business which in return teaches skills, pays wages and introduces them to the world of agriculture.

It is a chance for farming to win the hearts and souls of citizens who may be future decision-makers.