A new crop of graduates will soon be taking to the rostrums to raise standards even further at sales of sheep, cattle and pigs at livestock auction markets across England and Wales.
They join an increasing number of qualified livestock auctioneers who are specially trained to manage the increasing demands of the UK’s professional livestock auction markets sector. All the students have completed the Certificate of Higher Education in Professional Studies – Livestock Market Operations and Management at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire.
This course has been specially designed to help the trainee auctioneers deal with a fast-changing business environment and stay on top of changes in the regulations, as well as qualifying them to do valuations.
One of the new graduates this year, William Alexander, who is already selling calves on a weekly basis at Cumbria and Lancaster-based North West Auctions, said he went on the course because he felt it was important to learn more about the theory behind the job, especially on aspects of health and safety and animal welfare.
“We have to be operating at a standard where no fault can be found, especially in handling and moving animals around, so training is becoming more important than ever,” he said.
A fellow graduate, Richard Barrow, of Cirencester Market, said he did the course because he wanted to build his career in the livestock industry and the qualifications were very useful for forging ahead with his career. Although he is still involved in poultry and non-livestock sales at the moment, he hopes to start selling cows and sheep soon and said: “It is quite challenging to make sure everyone at the sales understands the rules and keep them happy at the same time. You are under the public eye, so you have to know what you are doing and you have to get it right.”
Mark Simcock, Principal Lecturer in Rural Land Management and Valuation at Harper Adams, said he was “very pleased with the intake of good talent this year, which is very heartening for the future prospects of the industry”.
Mr Simcock added: “We want them to see the industry as a whole and look at management aspects, such as forward planning and problem-solving techniques. These students are the future of the livestock industry.”
Other students included Louise Mercer from United Auctions at the Stirling Agricultural Centre, Rory Livesey from North East Livestock Sales, Acklington Market, Morpeth, Nick Baxter from McCartneys at Ludlow Market in Shropshire, Elliott Malloy from Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth and James Fawcett from Barnard Castle Auction Mart in County Durham.
Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA), which was a prime mover behind the launch of the graduate programme at Harper Adams, said he was delighted by the continued success of the certificate course.
“It’s good to see the next generation coming through with such ability and enthusiasm. The markets are continually modernising, so we need the right people to run them in the future,” said Mr Dodds.
“Harper Adams is equipping them to deal with a fast-changing business environment to ensure we can keep the industry sustainable,” he said.
Mr Dodds added: “The markets are increasingly important for the whole of agriculture, not just as places to buy and sell for the best prices, but as meeting places and places of entertainment. It is essential they can keep pace with the times and are able to adapt to meet ever-rising demands of safety, hygiene and welfare – and we are confident the new graduates will help them do just that.”