The first “Horse Industry Job Fair” took place during the EQUITANA on March 11, 2019. The event was planned by a project group of the Equine Management degree program at the Nuertingen-Geislingen University (HfWU). “Especially in the horse industry, it is important for young professionals to network and to find out about the diverse, numerous and interesting job opportunities in this field”, says Professor Dr Dirk Winter, Dean of Studies of Equine Management at the HfWU.
It is fair to say that the event was a full success. All in all, ten companies from the horse industry had come to present themselves as potential employers, among them big players such as Röwer&Rüb, the Hanoverian Association and EQUOVIS, which recently combined some of the strongest brands from the feed industry (Derby, Höveler, Nature’s Best, etc.). Most of the companies present already brought a couple of interesting job offers along.
At 1pm, Prof. Dr Winter opened the job fair with a short speech, welcoming companies and the numerous guests who had already arrived. Among them mainly students and alumni from equine management study programs. With their university being the host of the event, of course many students from the Equine Management program at the HfWU had come, but also equine scientists from the University of Göttingen, as well as Equine Sports & Business students from the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands) had made their way to Essen to speak directly to the representatives of the different companies. And, as the exhibitors say, this dialogue was very interesting and of high value. There was no such statement as: “I just wanted to look around” but specific questions, fruitful conversations and an honest exchange of experiences for everybody.
EquiJob was also at the job fair and delighted about the vivid dialogues with the mainly female candidates. Candidates were mostly interested in what their chances on the equine job market look like and which jobs are most commonly advertised.
In general, everyone involved rated this first horse industry job fair very positively. Participants also expressed their interest in a second edition of this event, since information on the demands and requirements of the equine job market and how to meet them, is immensely important and absolutely essential. Especially the current – and probably persistent – situation of having many more job openings than qualified candidates requires new ways and an informed dialogue. The German job market has changed and that does not stop short of the horse sector. The number of candidates is declining noticeably. The passion for horses is still a convincing argument for the sector, however, it is something companies should not rest on, as Georg Ettwig, head of marketing and communication at the German Equestrian Association (FN), points out. Companies have to actively address candidates, in order to not lose out in the war for talents.
The job fair concluded with a discussion by panellists from various areas of the horse industry. With Dr Astrid von Velsen-Zerweck (Federal Crown Equerry of the “Baden-Württemberg” Marbach State Stud) as host, the panellists Georg Ettwig (head of marketing and communication at the German Equestrian Association FN), Dr Katharina Wiegand (Auction Office of the Hanoverian Association), Ina Gläßer (CEO at German Horse Industry Consulting), Hannes Müller (Training Supervisor at German Riding School) and Prof. Dr Dirk Winter (Dean of Studies of Equine Management at the HfWU) answered to the questions from the audience and made statements from their respective perspectives concerning the horse industry job market. One of the most interesting topics for those looking for a job was the question about the profile of the ideal applicant right at the beginning (see overview in the text box). Here, all panellists agreed that it is not specialist skills or a particular qualification that makes the ideal candidate, but rather a general commitment and motivation – something that theoretically any candidate can have.
Then, the panel was asked the question from the other perspective: Why should candidates choose one of their companies or associations as employers or go for a study course in equine management? All panellists agreed on an argument that boils down to what Hannes Müller formulated so fittingly: “Riding is a way of life”. And anyone shaping their life in line with this credo cannot but work in this area. Of course, this cannot be the only argument speaking for a professional future in the horse sector. A great team, different tasks that you can design yourself at the Hanoverian Association, and exciting positions with international perspective and good career prospects at the GHI network companies also come into play.
The foundation for such a great job can be laid at the Nuertingen-Geislingen University with the degree Equine Management, for example. This program links horses and economics with a balanced mix of theory and practice. This concept and its graduates have convinced the employers of the industry. Prof. Dr Dirk Winter explained that only ten years ago, many companies were sceptical when it came to the graduates and did not perceive them as professionals. However, this has changed considerably. Today, companies actively contact the university with their job openings in order to win over the graduates.
The bottom line is, the horse industry is facing change. Many companies are on a growth course, nationally and internationally, and this leads to job opportunities for young professionals as well as experienced professionals. Still – or indeed, for this very reason – the dialogue among all parties involved must be promoted further. A job fair, as it took place during the EQUITANA on the 11th of March, offers great opportunities and should absolutely be repeated.