A new set of apprenticeship standards have been launched to help better equip the next generation of workers in the agricultural industry.
The NFU, along with AHDB and other industry employers, have created criteria for two farming apprenticeships – crop technician and stockperson. A third set of standards for a packhouse line leader is also underway.
The aim is to bring together technical knowledge from a training provider with practical on-the-job learning, to ensure the apprentice is a fully competent employee when they qualify.
And as the new style apprenticeships are industry-led, the standards of competency are set by those doing the recruiting.
One key element of the apprenticeships is the inclusion of ‘Behaviours’ alongside the more traditional ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Skills’ – helping build conducts that can lead workers to be more successful in the future.
Richard Longthorp, who chairs the Agricultural Trailblazer Employer Group, said the new structure to the standards will be 'hugely beneficial' to farming industry.
He added: “Trailblazer might not be a word people normally associate with the dry nature of education and skills policy, but with these new Trailblazer Apprenticeships, I genuinely believe we have made a really exciting shift in policy.
“We have gone from a top-down approach with Whitehall ‘Suits’ deciding what apprenticeships should look like, to where we are now – a bottom up approach with industry making the decisions.
“These standards were developed by those at the sharp end in farm business and then taken to representatives from across the industry and its organisations for consultation,” he said.
The apprenticeships are open to all industry businesses and depending on the size of it, the training will either be funded by the apprenticeship levy or by government.
Any Trailblazer Apprenticeship has a minimum duration of 12 months, but some can take up to 30 months, depending on the course level, apprentice and employer.
NFU Deputy President, Guy Smith said: “When you consider the exciting technical advances most of us are seeing on farms, from crop scanning drones to robot milking machines, it’s clear that agriculture is an incredibly innovative and rewarding sector to pursue a career in.
“There has never been a more important time to get involved in an industry that helps to provide the nation with safe, traceable and affordable food.
“Apprenticeships play a huge role in attracting new talent to the farming industry as well as offering farmers a great way to recruit new people and develop their skills, which enables farm businesses to continue to be productive, profitable and progressive,” Mr Smith said.