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Modern Apprenticeships at the heart of agriculture success

Lantra Scotland Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture Business Surgery.

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Land-based businesses discovered what they could gain from taking on a Modern Apprentice at a recent Lantra Business Surgery at the Barony Campus of Scotlland’s Rural College (SRUC)  near Dumfries. The ‘Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture’ event was hosted by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental industries, and supported by SRUC  , Skills Development Scotland and NFUS.

The event brought together farm managers, training providers, government bodies and trainees across all disciplines of agriculture, to introduce and discuss some of the practical benefits of taking on a Modern Apprenticeship, as well as some of the ongoing challenges.

The event was hosted by a panel of 7 speakers who raised some insightful points about the significant opportunities that the Modern Apprenticeship scheme brings to both apprentice and employer. They also discussed the ongoing challenges that have meant uptake of Modern Apprenticeships within agriculture remains low when compared to other industries in Scotland. Currently only a fraction of all Modern Apprentices in Scotland are within agriculture, and yet the opportunities for young people remain as beneficial as any sector.

Gary Mitchell, Chairman of NFU Scotland’s Milk Committee, made the point that this is firstly a grass roots issue, starting in schools, where there is a lack of awareness among young people about Modern Apprenticeships and careers in farming, and secondly a reputational issue, with an industry that needs to talk itself up more.

‘As an industry, we need to motivate children in schools to get them interested in agriculture, and the Modern Apprenticeship is an ideal vehicle to introduce more young people into farming. Attracting new blood into the sector with the right skills, motivation and attitude is critical to the success and growth of the industry going forward, and this requires a proactive, hands on approach from farmers, educators, the Government and the industry as a whole. It’s certainly not going to happen on its own.’

Julie Gray, National Operations Manager, Skills Development Scotland added: ‘There is no doubt that Modern Apprenticeships equip people with the skills they need for what is becoming a truly global career. The feedback we’ve had from employers is overwhelmingly in favour, with many saying that taking on a Modern Apprentice has helped increase the productivity of their business. However, we all need to do more to get the word out the

Brian Williams, Work-Based Learning Manager at SRUC, commented on some of the new initiatives being developed to promote and facilitate the growth of Modern Apprenticeships in farming:

‘One of the key challenges for farmers is accessing readily available, easily digestible information about the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme. There is a lot of information out there, but it is not necessarily easy to find, and rarely all in one place. One of the schemes being developed is the ‘diary hub.’ The ‘diary hub’ is an online portal that will provide a one stop shop where dairy farmers can access all the information they need about Modern Apprenticeships.’

Employer seminar speaker panel:

–       Drew Easton, Dean of the SRUC Barony Campus ;

–       Gary Mitchell, Event Chair, dairy farmer and Chairman of National Farmers Union Milk Committee;

–       Julie Gray, National Operations Manager, Skills Development Scotland;

–       Donald Brown/Ronnie Hattle, SRUC Barony Campus;

–       Brian Williams, Work Based Learning Manager SRUC;

–       Cameron Smith, Agriculture Modern Apprentice and winner of the agriculture award at the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards.


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