An investigation into the current staffing crisis within the UK horseracing industry is underway at renowned equine research centre Hartpury University.
The in-depth study will analyse the views, opinions and concerns of racing staff and racehorse trainers in the UK in an attempt to provide some clarity about why the current crisis exists.
It follows a report for the Racing Foundation in partnership with the British Horseracing Authority that identified that around a quarter of all permanent posts in racing yards required recruitment annually due to staff turnover or growth.
Carried out in 2016, it found that virtually half of permanent job vacancies in racing were identified as ‘hard-to-fill’ compared to a national figure of one third.
This latest study at Hartpury University, which has launched a new programme of specialist horseracing degrees, will investigate how satisfied racehorse trainers and racing staff are feeling about their current roles, their wages and their work-life balance in the industry.
Through a series of focus groups, the study will also ask racehorse trainers and employees how work conditions and staff retention could be improved.
The results of the study at Hartpury – one of the world’s largest equine educational centres – are expected to be released in the summer.
The research will be carried out by Hartpury University graduate Elizabeth Juckes for a postgraduate dissertation towards a masters degree in Equine Science.
“There is an opportunity to investigate the ongoing issues within the industry to attempt to capture views and perceptions of the workforce and employers to enable the industry to action these points for its future betterment and sustainability,” said Elizabeth.
Hartpury’s specialist degrees are driven by industry professionals to enable graduates to succeed in the global horseracing industry.
The BA (Hons) International Horseracing Business and BSc (Hons) Racehorse Performance and Rehabilitation degrees provides students with the first-hand industry experience that employers are looking for.
The performance and rehabilitation course will combine this with strong practical knowledge, while the business students will take a closer look at the governance and structure of international racing.
The racing modules are being taught by programme leads with in-depth experience of racing and a wealth of contacts: Saranna Jordan, assistant to 15-time champion trainer Martin Pipe; Fiona Dowling, worked for Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott as well as spending many years working internationally.
Students are also gaining hands-on experience working with the world-class facilities at Hartpury’s Equestrian Centre, including the Equine Therapy Centre, Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance Centre and the 230-horse livery yard.
Picture: Hartpury students at Chepstow races