New farming qualification aims to train up young people

The average age of a British farmer is now around 60, while under 35s account for under 5%
The average age of a British farmer is now around 60, while under 35s account for under 5%

A new farming qualification is being developed to bring more skilled young people into agriculture and land management.

A consultation has been launched to seek the views of those within the farming industry on the planned content of the 'T-Level' qualification.

These are new two-year classroom-based technical study programmes, which also involve a substantial amount of work experience.

They are being rolled out alongside apprenticeships and A levels. T-Levels will be one of the three major options available to students aged 16 – 19.

It comes as the need to attract young and upcoming talent into the British farming industry has never been greater.

The average age of a farmer is now approaching 60, while the proportion aged under 35 has remained stubbornly under 5% since 2000.

This brings with it long-held concerns about where the next generation trained to meet advancing technology needs will come from.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education said T-Levels could play a 'major role' in redressing this issue.

Deputy director for technical education, Carmel Grant says the consultation is open to 'everyone who cares about agriculture'.

“T-Levels can play a vital role in attracting younger people into agriculture and maximising benefits to the sector from technological advances. We need feedback from as many people as possible.”

The consultation is focused on the T-Level's content. It involves crop production, floristry, habitat management, land-based engineering, livestock production, ornamental and environmental horticulture and landscaping, trees and woodland management and maintenance.

They will involve 80% classroom-based learning, and 20% on-the-job learning through substantial industry placements and are equivalent to 3 A Levels.

The qualifications are being rolled out from 2020 to 2023 across 11 different sectors, which in addition to agriculture include sectors such as digital, construction and engineering.