Skills Summit Focuses Industry on New Age of Professionalism

UK - The image of rustic, welly-trod farm life dies hard but a modern, more business-like and technically advanced approach to agriculture is already here and driving the industry forward.
calendar icon 12 November 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

That was the clear message to come out of a high level skills summit hosted by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in London, last week. AHDB had brought agricultural and horticultural leaders together at the Charing Cross Hotel (on Weds 6 November) to launch and debate a new skills strategy for the industry.

Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Resource Management, the local Environment and Environmental Science, joined a receptive audience to emphasise how “business and technical skills are key to the future of UK agriculture.”

Summit chairman Richard Longthorp, an East Yorkshire pig and arable farmer and Chairman of the Agri-Skills Forum management group, was eager to see new knowledge, greater innovation and a new professionalism begin to work for the benefit of the whole industry:

“Strategies and summits will not alone deliver professionalism,” he argued, “what we really need now is commitment.”

The new AgriSkills Strategy – Professionalism in Agriculture - has been driven by AHDB and championed by the cross-industry AgriSkills Forum. It is AHDB’s response to recommendations, made in the recently unveiled Agri-Tech Strategy, the Future of Farming Review and by the Farming Regulation Taskforce, for the levy board to lead a more coordinated approach to skills development and the attainment of a new professionalism in UK agriculture and horticulture.

AHDB Chief Executive Tom Taylor was clear in his commitment, telling the summit: “This strategy shows how skills can help deliver a more profitable, sustainable industry. AHDB, working with the industry, will drive it forward.”

“We have to make the strategy work but it will only work if all of us in the industry work together.”

A group of ‘Skills Champions’ has been drawn from across the agriculture spectrum to help promote the delivery of the skills strategy. One champion, Andrew Brewer, a dairy farmer from Cornwall, told the audience: “We have to increase the capability of our people.”

Fellow champion, Tony Wright, a North Yorkshire pig manager fresh from receiving the BPEX 2013 Trainee of the Year Award at the House of Commons the night before, said he was proud to be an industry skills champion because, “every successful farm business has to invest in its staff.”

Aimed at promoting lifelong learning and skills on a cross-industry scale, the strategy launch was also supported with key presentations from the National Farmers Union (NFU), plus leading industry skills bodies Landex (Land Based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence) and LANTRA (UK Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries).

The AgriSkills Forum management group finalised the strategy and its five delivery work streams following wide consultation with the industry, which was overseen by AHDB during August and September this year.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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