Jo Davis: action need to attract young people to work in racing
Trainer Jo Davis created a social media stir on Thursday with an impassioned look at how the stable staff crisis affects those operating at the smaller end of the spectrum.
Her thoughts struck a chord with many, including fellow professionals, and she believes if racing is to tackle its shortfall of staff then more must be done to make it an attractive career path.
Davis feels there are numerous issues that need addressing so young people regard working in a racing yard as a worthwhile and rewarding job.
Based just outside Lambourn in East Garston, Davis has witnessed first-hand how the growth of larger yards has made it tougher and tougher for smaller operations to attract staff but thinks the sport needs to offer more options for career progression.
“There needs to be more hands-on experience,” Davis said on Friday. “Racing is one of the few industries that when you become a head lad or an assistant in yard, you can’t go any further unless you do it yourself.
“If the vet comes in and they want to work with them, let them. Teach them and let them be involved. When you’re older and your body is knackered and you’ve put all these years into an industry, what is there for you?”
Davis also suggested a self-development cycle, with more experienced members of stable staff becoming teachers and trainers for those coming into racing, therefore creating a different career beyond yard work.
As well as a dearth of bodies, Davis also highlighted the paucity of affordable accommodation for stable staff, and added: “There’s a lack of housing, and rented accommodation is worth so much.
“It’s incredibly hard to give people accommodation when you could be earning money off it, especially when you’re struggling. Do we try to get more hostels in places like Lambourn and Newmarket? The accommodation isn’t there.”
Davis wrote about the stable staff crisis at length on her website and discussed the hours staff have to work.
Davis’s staff work an 11-day fortnight, and the trainer added: “I’d love to do a five-day week – I just could never afford to do that. Maybe a five-and-a-half-day week could become mandatory, not a twelve-and-a-half-day fortnight.
“They need to get away and have these days off to help them mentally.”