Prince Charles's charity has started construction of a new agricultural school in Scotland to help bring fresh talent into the farming and rural sector.
The multi-million-pound training centre, to be called The MacRobert Farming and Rural Skills Centre, will open its doors in summer 2023.
Prince Charles joined representatives of the MacRobert Trust and education staff from the Prince's Foundation today (9 May) as construction on the site begins.
The Prince's charity submitted design plans to East Ayrshire Council earlier this year, with the site on the grounds of Dumfries House Estate, near Cumnock.
According to the educational charity, the school will aim to bring new entrants into the sector, specifically targeting those with no current connection to it.
Lying adjacent to the estate’s commercial operation Home Farm, the facility will enable the Prince’s Foundation to host events and workshops for around 1,800 participants each year.
This will include secondary school pupils, school leavers showing an interest in land-based jobs, and adult learners looking for new careers as well as farming and rural sector workers looking to upskill.
Featuring two indoor teaching spaces including facilities for laboratory work and a working barn, the facility will provide students a chance to engage in real life scenarios in both day visits and residential courses.
This will be complemented by an online offering to ensure a diverse range of participants are inspired to consider rural careers, and are provided with pathways to higher level qualifications.
Iona Murray, rural skills coordinator for the Prince’s Foundation, said: “The new Rural Skills Centre will enable us to further develop our short term intensive training programmes.
And [it will] expand the opportunities to school leavers, adults looking to pursue new career routes, and those already working in the industry.
"We have worked closely with those in the sector and other education providers to ensure our offering fills a much needed gap.
"[We] look forward to building new partnerships with likeminded organisations over the coming years to place the facility at Dumfries House as an accessible rural skills hub and route into the industry”
The MacRobert Trust, a Scottish charity which funds building works across the country, said the new school would inspire the next generation to consider rural careers.
Its CEO Chris Hockley said: “Importantly, the development will also benefit those already working or training in the industry by offering upskilling and networking opportunities.”
It comes after Prince Charles recently opened Wales's first school for veterinary science at Aberystwyth University, where he was a former student himself.
The Prince toured the new Veterinary Education Centre on 10 December 2021 and spoke to some of the first cohort of students who began in September.