Continuing professional development 'crucial' for farming

The future looks bright for farmers who focus on continuing professional development, according to young farmer Chris Hanks
The future looks bright for farmers who focus on continuing professional development, according to young farmer Chris Hanks

One of Welsh agriculture’s most prominent personalities is lending his support to a campaign to encourage the industry to focus on continuous professional development.

Chris Hanks, who is currently chair of Future Farmers of Wales, is a graduate of Reading University and farm manager in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The young farmer recently joined Farming Connect’s team of approved mentors, where his speciality topics are anaerobic digesters and biomass systems.

He says that continuing professional development (CPD) will be crucial in driving the industry forward.

“We are all facing immense challenges, and it’s difficult to forecast if or indeed when we can expect to be operating our businesses without the current levels of political, environmental and economic uncertainty.

“Standing still and continuing to farm in the way we have always done, may no longer be an option for many farmers.

“We cannot wait for the unknown to happen, which is why I urge farmers to prepare for the future now, to focus on their individual strengths and capabilities and to take steps to ensure they are ready to capitalise on any new opportunities which arise.”

At the Winter Fair held recently at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd, Chris, whose father William is honorary show director, was an advocate of CPD as Farming Connect launched a publicity campaign promoting its new web based CPD tool.

Storfa Sgiliau (Skills Store) is a secure online data storage tool which will record all the personal and professional development records of eligible farmers in one place.

Mr Hanks said he will be urging all members of Future Farmers of Wales to utilise the system, which is available to all farmers registered with Farming Connect via their BOSS account and Sign on Cymru.

He said: “Storfa Sgiliau will be a great resource for farmers throughout Wales, making it really easy for them to collect, collate and update all their CPD records in one secure online location.

“It goes above and beyond what you would expect, by enabling you to access a digital or downloadable printed report setting out all your skills, training and relevant academic/professional achievements and certificates as well as providing the evidence you would need for a farm assurance assessor's visit, supply chain organisation or prospective employer.”

Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Welsh government.