Norfolk sees significant fall in traditional rural jobs over the last decade
Workers in traditional rural jobs such as farming, hunting, forestry and fishing in Norfolk have fallen by 30pc over the last decade, new figures have shown.
There were just 9,697 people in the county working in these industries in 2011, compared to 13,664 in 2001, according to the latest census data from the Office for National Statistics.
Across England and Wales, the proportion of workers in the industry have slumped to a record low of 1pc, with the number down from 22pc in 1841.
Brian Finnerty, National Farmers Union communications advisor for East Anglia, said: 'These figures reflect the big changes we have seen in agriculture with consolidation, more contract farming, and farm workers retiring and not being replaced, but the scale of the drop over 10 years is still quite surprising.'
He said that the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs carried out its own annual census of farms and there was evidence that, nationally, the trend had stabilised and even started to move upwards, with 10,000 more people employed in farming between 2010 and 2011.
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County figures for June 2010 showed there were 8,207 farmers and farm workers on Suffolk farms in 2010, and 12,269 working on Norfolk farms.
He added: 'One of the big challenges facing the industry in our region is finding the farmers of tomorrow as a quarter of that workforce is due to retire in the next 10 years.'
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The NFU is part of an initiative called EDGE, which is trying to encourage more young people to consider a career in agriculture and horticulture, and more farmers to consider taking on an apprentice.
The ONS statistics also showed that since 1841 service sector employment had jumped from 33pc of employment to 81pc, while manufacturing has fallen from 36pc to just 9pc nationally.
The figures also showed that the industry with the highest proportion of women workers was public administration, education and health, at 70pc, while the one with the lowest proportion was construction, at just 12pc.
Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: 'The rapid migration of the UK manufacturing jobs to low-wage economies over two decades is the long-term legacy of Mrs Thatcher's period in office. As manufacturing and extraction were the foundation of the UK economy for over a century it is too early to say what the long-term consequences are for prosperity of the UK workforce.
'The majority of workers in advanced economies are now employed in services like education, health, transport, retail and wholesale distribution, communications, hotel and catering, arts, entertainment and leisure, public administration and law enforcement.
'When North Sea oil runs out, how in the long term the UK pays for the necessary imports of energy, food and manufactured goods is still open to question. That is why GMB wants a regional and industrial strategy to revive manufacturing industry.'