Higher Apprenticeship

Agriculture  Higher Apprentice

Agriculture Higher Apprentice

Application Information


  • A balance of academic study and a real-life agricultural banking role
  • Support to gain industry-recognised banking qualifications, and gain membership of a professional body
  • A mobile role among customers in food and farming industries

This is Relationship Management with a difference. Join our Agriculture programme and you’ll learn what it’s like to build deep, long-lasting client relationships, specifically in the food and farming industries. Out and about around the farms and agricultural markets of your region, you’ll build a fascinating future. You’ll take pride in working with the sector that feeds the nation. Plus you’ll study for Relationship Management qualifications in the process. All with no previous Agriculture experience necessary. Please note: if you’re interested in Relationship Management but you’d rather be based in our London office, or you’d rather work for our corporate and private wealth clients, you should apply for our Relationship Management programme.


What do we mean when we say Agriculture?

The word conjures up certain ideas for most people, but we’re not talking about becoming a farmer here. You don’t need agricultural experience. So what are we offering exactly? Here’s a rough outline of what the team does:

Look after the banking needs of the food and farming industries – whose lending makes up 35% of Barclays UK as a whole

Support and grow farms across the UK, helping farmers in times of both success and struggle

Build relationships and manage accounts for customers from small hill farmers to national-scale supermarket suppliers

Advise on both opportunities and threats for farmers, whether it’s diversification, funding new equipment, or cyber security

Look after the banking needs of the food and farming industries – whose lending makes up 35% of Barclays UK as a whole

Support and grow farms across the UK, helping farmers in times of both success and struggle

Build relationships and manage accounts for customers from small hill farmers to national-scale supermarket suppliers

Advise on both opportunities and threats for farmers, whether it’s diversification, funding new equipment, or cyber security

The facts of the programme

What will I do?

The work you’ll do in Agriculture will depend completely on lots of factors – the clients you work with, the location, even the season. That said, there are some things we can say definitively:

First, your practical work for us will see you spend three years learning how to manage relationships for our bank, working with food and farming customers and businesses of all shapes and sizes. You’ll travel to their farms and places of work to get to know them and their needs. You’ll help them fund the technology they need for their business to thrive. And you’ll become a much-valued part of an industry no-one could do without.

What specific tasks could that involve? Anything from driving round a farm to see its livestock assets, to advising farmers on financing new technology to help them better maintain their crops. You’ll even learn to give advice on diversifying: projects like holiday chalets that can support a farm’s income.  

At the same time, you’ll also be studying towards a degree in Relationship Management. With space to learn academically as well as professionally, you’ll balance your work and your degree, with help from mentors and managers.

Study leave is a built-in part of your programme too, with half a day per week in study leave guaranteed. You might even take more than that, depending on your manager’s needs. What’s more, you’ll be able to do that studying in a location that suits you, whether it’s at home, in a local branch, or in our corporate offices.

With all our programmes, colleagues are responsible for ensuring that all activities and duties are carried out in full compliance with regulatory requirements, Barclays Operational Risk Framework and internal Barclays Policies and Standards.

How will my programme be structured?

It all starts with an induction attended by absolutely all Higher Apprentices, whichever programme you’re on, from Agriculture to Internal Audit.

Next, you’ll get to hear about the agriculture sector, usually in talks or meetings with some of your senior colleagues. They’ll help you understand what our business is all about, and give you the inspiration you need to get started.

Now, you’ll start to shadow colleagues, getting to know the essentials of the work you do. We’ll teach you the ins and outs of how the agricultural sector works, and you’ll have training and workshops to gain core skills. You’ll even shadow managers and learn about client interaction first-hand.

Early on, you’ll also attend the Agricultural Awareness Course with your cohort. Taking place over the course of a week, it’s designed to be a crash course in farming, even if you’re a total beginner. Senior managers will take you through every aspect of all kinds of farming, from growing crops (arable) to raising animals (pastoral).  

Back on the job, once you’re ready – and it really is all about your unique development here – we’ll start to put you onto client reviews. You’ll call them to talk about short-term requirements and start building your skills, with support and feedback from your manager.  

From there, you’ll progress at your own pace to having your own small group of customers – and you’ll look after those accounts for yourself to grow your experience.

Alongside all this though, you’ll also be managing your degree work, with a half day per week assigned for study leave – which you can manage however suits you best.

In your first year, that degree work includes plenty of academic introductions, helping you get up to speed. You’ll learn about Financial Markets and Risk, as well as modules particularly relevant to you and your role. Twice a week, you’ll have interactive learning tutorials which you’ll do via online video conference.

All the way along, you’ll be supported by your manager, your buddy (a manager who isn’t your own line manager), and your talent coach. They’ll all be available for calls, emails and regular contact throughout the programme, so you’ve always got someone to turn to. There’s a firm structure in place too to make sure that each week, your manager helps you set your goals and stay on track.  

In year two, we’ll start to deepen your understanding as well as giving you the skills you need to help your clients navigate the wider market. Those include:

  • Financial Services: The Commercial Environment
  • Retail Financial Services or Commercial and Corporate Financial Services
  • Professionalism, Conduct and Ethics

Throughout your programme, there are various kinds of assessment we’ll use to help you test your skills and see your progress. Those include examinations, reviews with your manager, and then comes your final year.

Here, you’ll find your big chance to demonstrate everything you’ve learned. You’ll build your portfolio of work-based evidence, and you’ll work on a risk-based final project – all the while supported by your manager, tutor and team. Then at the end, you’ll have your professional presentation and panel discussion, led by Barclays and by independent assessors from other financial organisations and from the professional qualification body – all of whom are there to help you do well.  

Who thrives here?

Anyone who’s got the right attitude – and you don’t have to come from a farming background at all. You’ll be good with numbers and great with people, but you don’t need to have a lot of experience to show us that. You’ll do well if you’re ready to learn, and happy to take on any challenge that comes your way.

Unlike many of our other roles, Agriculture means you’ll need to be happy to be outdoors and on the go most of the time: there’s a lot of travelling involved, from walking around client farms to driving out to fairs and markets. It’s an active life, but one with plenty of rewards. To make it work though, you’ll also need a driving licence (but it’s fine if you don’t have a car of your own).

You don’t have to be a brilliant communicator yet, but you need to remember that talking to people will be an important part of this job. You’re gaining the trust of a whole farming community and strengthening our relationships with them. Of course we’ll support you to learn how to do that, but you’ll need to be comfortable with the idea that as you grow, it’ll be a central part of your job.

Good organisation is critical too. Again, we’ll coach you in how to manage everything, but throughout the apprenticeship, you’ll be balancing work, study, and your home life. It’s an intense challenge that needs real self-motivation. We think you can do it, but you need to come into the course with your eyes open to that – even if you haven’t done anything like it before.

How will I develop?

On any of our apprenticeships, you’ll quickly discover that this is about much more than three years of your time – it’s a stepping-stone to a permanent career with our bank.

Nowhere is that more true than in Agriculture. Many of our senior team in this department have been with the business for up to thirty years – and that senior team are looking to pass on their expertise to new apprentices. 

With that in mind, if you decide to stay in Agriculture, you’ll find brilliant future prospects with a clear path to becoming a manager. It’s an uncommon chance to break into this essential industry, building on the expertise and the customer base passed on to you.

 What’s more, a permanent career in Agriculture isn’t your only option – you could also consider the Graduate scheme or aim for our internal Masters Apprenticeship. The choice is absolutely up to you and your ambitions.

Where will I be based?

The nature of the job means you’ll be roaming to cover a large number of farming clients and events, but you’ll be based closed to or in one of the following locations: Darlington, Kent, Suffolk, Oxford, Leicestershire/Lincolnshire.

What are the key dates?

Early March: Applications open

5pm, Friday 18 May: Applications close

May: London assessment centres

May/June: Manchester assessment centres

June: All candidates notified of outcome

September: Higher Apprenticeships begin

Hear from someone who’s been there

We can tell you lots about our programme, but sometimes it’s easier to hear it straight from someone who’s been there. Time to talk to one of our current cohort:

Meet Bethan


I almost didn’t do an apprenticeship. I thought I was too old, that I’d been in work for too long. Initially I was worried about how people would perceive it. But as soon as I got onto the programme and things got started, I saw that it just didn’t matter at all. Barclays see the positive in everyone.

What I love about the Agriculture Apprenticeship is that we’re a very mixed group. Different ages, different life stages. It doesn’t matter what your start is - half of my cohort are from farming backgrounds and half aren’t; they’ve got no agricultural experience at all. And quite a few of the existing agricultural managers who look after us aren’t from a farming background either, so they know what everyone’s going through.

You’re mentored really well. You’ve got a buddy, someone you’ll shadow at least once a week as they go to markets, fairs, client farms. You see what they do and they take you through everything as they do it. You’ll be surprised how quickly you catch up – and there’s a great course we do right at the start that takes you through every sector; everything you need to know about every kind of farming.

The other brilliant thing is that you’re in a role that can be really flexible, whether you’re looking after a family or whatever you have in your personal life. Myself and my other half actually look after our own flock of sheep – a mixture of commercial and pedigree – and then I’m also juggling my work and studies. But the team help me make that happen. If you’d rather work late one night and finish earlier the next, they’re supportive of that.

It’s all about personalising everybody’s journey. You only move onto new skills when you’re personally ready. I had a bit of background in relationship management, for instance, so I’ve started doing my own client reviews over the phone, but others in my cohort are working on building other skills first. 

You’re supported to learn at your pace all the way.

Starting to make those calls has been so rewarding for me. To give you an example, I spoke to one gentleman recently who wanted to borrow from the bank to redo his dairy parlour. Milking is actually one of the most technologically forward parts of farming, but that technology is expensive and food preparation areas have to be kept to such high standards, so you’ve got to have the money there to do it. In talking to him and setting him up for lending appointments, I can really help him improve his farm and his business. That’s such a massive thing as an apprentice.

Becoming an agricultural manager is definitely the goal for me, and the programme qualifies you for that. There’s a clear path and huge potential for progression in this sector, so you know you can work your way up. It’s a brilliant part of the bank to be in, with support to go as high as you want to go.

Bethan, Agriculture Higher Apprentice

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