End for lads and lasses in new BHA initiative
Racing is getting rid of stable lads and stable lasses under a new industry initiative.
Before owners and trainers choke on their cornflakes, it's the job title that is going as racing tries to attract more young people into jobs in racing stables.
Racing groom, work rider, racing staff and stable staff are the new job titles that have been adopted and are now in place on the sport’s central recruitment website www.careersinracing.com.
The latest industry rebranding attempts to rid the sport of the image of 19th and 20th century stable staff and highlight the skilled nature of the job and its benefits.
The industry has been trying to address shortages in stable staff and high turnover, with BHA figures showing 1,700 vacancies advertised each year with 1,300 recruited, which leaves a shortfall of up to 500 a year and some trainers struggling to cope.
Racing bodies are united in working to attract young people, and Rupert Arnold, National Trainers Federation chief executive, said on Sunday: “This has come to the fore with discussions on the industry roadshows recently and the need to attract young people in a very competitive market.
“Job descriptions haven’t been specific and the point is to make job titles something that are relevant to young people to engage them when going into schools and meeting parents to attract people to appealing jobs in racing yards."
Robin Mounsey, BHA media manager, said: “Titles of ‘lad’ and ‘lass’ do not properly reflect the skill and dedication of the staff who provide first-class care for the horses in British racing, while racing groom is much more appropriate
“Racing offers a great 'package' to its staff and there has never been a better time to work in the sport. They get the opportunity to work with amazing animals and be involved in the nation's second biggest sport, plus access to union-agreed pay structures, prize-money pools, occupational health, pension and insurance schemes as well as a newly-launched careers advice and training scheme.”
George McGrath, chief executive of the National Association of Stable Staff, which has more than 6,600 members, welcomed the move.
“It's about moving forward and giving a professional workforce a professional name," he said.
“The general public who don’t understand racing when hearing lads and lasses conjures up an image of a pre-teenager who loves horses living above the barn, which is so far from reaiity.
“I always use 'racing staff' and I know nine out of ten filling a form in a bank put down agricultural labourer when applying for loans or mortgages as if that's better than what they do.
“We needed to create a more professional image.”
Tim Vaughan, trainer
I’m all for progress and if this is felt more appropriate then you’ve got to roll with it. It sounds like they're doing it with the best interests of employees and racing at the forefront of their minds, so if it’s good for them it’s good for me.
Brian Ellison, trainer
There's nothing wrong with the name stable lad, I was one myself. It's like them changing the name of binmen to refuse collectors. But at the end of the day it's just a name.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer
It seems a bit silly. We get on all right as they are. It’s political correctness and everything else I imagine.
Leanne Masterton, senior travelling head groom with Andrew Balding and 2014 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff employee of the year
I was called a stable lad for a long time so it was nice to then be called lass. It's never really bothered me.
Rory O’Dowd, assistant to Brian Meehan and a Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff award winner this year
Groom is a nice word but anyone asked what they do wouldn’t say they were a stable lad, just that they work in racing. Some people’s take when asked about stable lads is the old reputation of working hard and playing hard, so perhaps a change will help get rid of that.