Once known as The Garden of England, Kent's landscape was dominated by hop gardens and orchards for centuries. While that era has gone, the county retains an agricultural backbone it is the UK's primary hazelnut producer, for example, and continues to provide fruit and high quality lamb.
Kent's superb transport links with Europe and the rest of the UK give it a unique employment landscape and pose interesting challenges for recruitment agencies. The Channel Tunnel is a 50km-long railway tunnel that links the Kentish town of Folkestone with the continent, through which passenger-only Eurostar services and vehicle transport Shuttle trains run. Kent's high speed rail network allows unprecedented access to the capital - the journey time from Ashford to St Pancras is just 36 minutes, for example. Transport is a significant part of Kent's economy, with large seasonal fluctuations in passenger numbers and part-time staff.
Employment in Kent is higher than the rest of England. There are several Kent-wide recruitment agencies and many more location-specific ones. The county has a lower percentage of 16-74 year olds who have a higher education qualification or the equivalent than the rest of the UK. Large employers in Kent include Folkestone-based financial and travel services firm Saga, Abbott Laboratories in Queenborough and the BAE Systems site in Rochester with 1,400 staff.
The median full-time weekly earnings for workers living in Kent in 2012 was £538.80 lagging behind the South East as a whole but higher than the national average. There is an east-west divide in Kent for example those living in the prosperous Tunbridge Wells district earn £613.50 on average, while those in the relatively deprived Thanet area have median earnings of £415.10.