Farming: Apprenticeships recruiting farmers of the future

The whole agricultural sector needs to work harder at extolling the many and diverse virtues of a career in the industry in order to attract more workers during the acute labour shortages currently facing not only farming but many rural-based businesses.

Ringlink pre-apprenticeship scheme
Ringlink pre-apprenticeship scheme

And announcing the inauguration of latest round of recruits, the organisers of the increasingly popular pre-apprenticeship scheme said that the backdrop of limited worker availability made the scheme more important today than it had ever been in the past.

“The Land-based Pre-apprenticeship is a vocational pathway at entry level for a school leaver or new entrant, providing a qualification at SCQF level 4, certificated training tickets and 6 months full-time employment,” said Graham Bruce, managing director of Ringlink Scotland which, recognising the need to encourage new workers into the sector initiated the scheme in 2012.

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He said that the work-based model used in the scheme which offers youngsters six months of training and mentoring suited the industry well as it included essential Health& Safety awareness while also providing the fundamental skills and competency for a relatively inexperienced person starting out in farming.

The 2022 scheme got underway recently, with 27 young trainees completing a 4-day block induction at the Scottish Rural College (SRUC) in Cupar, Fife before commencing their six months employment placements with mentor businesses around the country this month.

Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland has announced funding for the scheme as part of three-year pilot and the employers which include three of the largest Machinery Ring organisations, Ringlink Scotland, Borders Machinery Ring and Tarff Services are delighted to have secured another 3-year tranche of funding tasking them up to 2025.

Gail Robertson, Ringlink’s Group Operations and programme manager said that the current round would see almost 200 trainees having passed through the scheme to date, achieving an 80 per cent completion rate.

“Typically, at least 50 per cent of trainees in completion progress on to the modern apprenticeship either with the same mentor business or another land-based employer,” said Robertson.

“The Ringlink team and its board of directors have invested significantly to get the pre-apprenticeship where it is today and our ambition is for the program to become part of the modern apprenticeship family.”

She said that Ringlink had recently received an award from Skills Development Scotland at the North East Food and Drink Award for ‘Recognition to young people skills development’, marking what she said was a “proud moment” for the entire team as a testament to everyone’s efforts.

The pre-apprenticeship placings are widespread across the country, stretching across Fife, Perthshire, Mearns and Angus, Aberdeenshire, and Moray – and a further testament to the growing success of the initiative, more than 50 per cent of the participants come from non-agricultural backgrounds.

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“Mentor businesses play a vitally important role in the program and we are immensely appreciative for their involvement. Mentors are always in demand and we currently have three trainees in the Oldmeldrum/Ellon areas who still need matched to a mentor, therefore if you are interested in offering a placement, please contact Ringlink”.



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