EIT Food and LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), leaders in educational and agri-food initiatives, joined forces to provide a unique learning experience to 33 students aged 14–16. The collaboration addressed common challenges and misconceptions about the agri-food industry while showcasing a range of diverse career opportunities. The partnership's primary goal was to bridge the gap between classroom education and real-world industry insights, fostering a deeper understanding of the career pathways for students to pursue opportunities within the agri-food sector.

The initiative comprised three distinct components: two workshops were conducted within the school premises, featuring hands-on activities and discussions led by the LEAF Education team. An initial in-school workshop centred around understanding students’ perceptions of the industry, careers, and experiences of food and farming. Practical tasks inspired students to make links between their passions, skills, attributes and curriculum learning and the careers they were presented with; developing their understanding of the entry routes and pathways into specific roles of interest.

On the 8th of November 2023, the students had a unique opportunity to visit Innovation Agritech Group (IAG), an indoor growing research facility. During the visit, students toured the facility learning about the cutting-edge developments of aeroponic growing technology and scientific research to; affect plant growth; improve seed efficiency, build plant resilience, and increase the speed of plant growth. With a sense of curiosity and intrigue, students then engaged with industry professionals to learn more about their careers and opportunities within the agri-food sector, exploring the pathways, skills and attributes that have led them to their current role at IAG.

The final in-school session centred around a debate on the statement: ‘Indoor aeroponic growing is the most sustainable option for future lettuce production.’ Students were encouraged to analyse critically, and either agree or disagree with the statement, fostering critical thinking and discussions about sustainable agricultural practices.

The collaboration between EIT Food and LEAF Education successfully addressed the need to connect education with industry realities. The program broadened students' perspectives on the agri-food sector and established crucial links between their academic studies and future career opportunities. This case study exemplifies the positive impact of educational partnerships in preparing students for the challenges and opportunities in the ever-evolving agri-food industry.

Feedback from the students after the Career Day:

71% - of students would consider a career in the agri-food industry.

65% - of students now plan to select A-level subjects that link to agri-food careers.

90% of students believe the food and farming industries welcome new entrants from diverse communities and are inclusive for everyone.

97% agree that society should care about where our food comes from.