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Are You Looking to Boost Productivity and Increase Skills?

Celebrating the benefits that Apprenticeships deliver to both learners and employers lies at the heart of National Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 3 – 7 March this year. The week focuses on raising the profile of Apprenticeships amongst employers, individuals, schools, colleges and the media.

The week is a key event for Lantra, the sector skills council for land-based and environmental sector, who have worked closely with industry to develop a new Apprenticeship framework. Launched in 2013, the Higher Apprenticeship in Agriculture Level 4 was created as a result of requests from farmers who wanted to develop their workforce to a higher skill level, encourage business growth and close skills gaps.

Amy Jasper, who is currently undertaking the higher Apprenticeship. “She is an excellent student and a real credit to both the College and her employer” says Stephen Parsons.

Amy Jasper, who is currently undertaking the higher Apprenticeship. “She is an excellent student and a real credit to both the College and her employer” says Stephen Parsons.

Duchy College in Cornwall and Kingston Maurward College in Dorset have been instrumental in the development of the Apprenticeship, which is currently running across the South West. Stephen Parsons, programme manager for the Duchy College programme, explains how the Apprenticeship is designed to benefit the industry:
“The Apprenticeship aims to develop better qualified managers with knowledge and skills to do the job, and therefore increase profitability” he says.
“Apprentices either already hold enterprise management positions, such as dairy unit managers, or are aspiring to be managers. There are 32 individuals engaged in the Level 4 Skills Development programme of which 15 are following the full breadth of skills and knowledge contained within the Higher Apprenticeship framework. It’s very much learning by doing, with students spending the majority of the 16-18 month programme in the workplace.”

Students focus heavily on advanced technology elements of the industry such as nutrition, breeding and fertility, health and welfare, environmental management, and grassland and forage management.

Stephen is keen to stress the advantages that Apprentices can bring to the industry. He explains:
“Apprentices are encouraged to question farms’ current ways of thinking and take a more analytical approach to the current strategy/policy and way of working. Apprentices are asked to benchmark their units both financially and in terms of physical output and efficiency of production against comparable data achieved for the unit in previous years and other similar units both locally and nationally. They use these results to set new targets and produce plans to deliver improvements and hence bottom line profitability. Students are required to closely monitor and evaluate the results.”

Employers are vital in supporting students as they develop their skills and knowledge. Stephen continues:
“Each employer on the programme is key to providing unrivalled knowledge and experience Students also draw knowledge and skills from other key people involved with the enterprise, such as vets, agronomists and nutritionists. It’s important that students use all the knowledge and experience available to them. Various esteemed speakers from industry lecture the students at college, which is critical in ensuring the students develop a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of agriculture”.

All of these aspects are imperative in improving the skills, knowledge and experience of farm managers and fledgling farm managers, who will in turn help to boost productivity and ultimately profit. Recent Lantra research highlights that more than 595,000 people will be required to join the industry over the next 10 years to safeguard its future. Taking on an Apprentice can help ensure that the next generation of farmers possess the skills and in-depth understanding needed in this multi-faceted and increasingly technological industry.

Jo-Anne Bryan, Lantra’s project manager for apprenticeships, says:
“Lantra’s Higher Apprenticeship in Agriculture is a positive step forward for industry and provides learners and employers alike with progression opportunities. It offers on-the-job training so that employees can contribute to the business while gaining the skills and experience that the business needs.”

According the National Apprenticeship Service, a nationwide survey has revealed that 76% of employers believe Apprenticeships provide higher overall productivity, whilst 83% rely on Apprenticeship programmes to develop skilled workers.


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