Hands-on experience benefits farming apprenticeship

Written by
Alex Black

06 Mar 2019

06 Mar 2019 • by Alex Black

Gaining hands-on experience and earning a wage whilst training can make an apprenticeship an attractive option for young people looking to get into agriculture or related industries.

And there are opportunities for people from all different backgrounds, with colleges seeing a variety of students from family farms and those with no links to the farming industry.

With young people required to remain in full-time education or training until they reach 18, an apprenticeship can offer a less academic route, giving apprentices valuable experience alongside training from a college.

Unlike a full-time course at college or university, the majority of the learning will be done on the job and apprentices earn a wage while training. The current minimum wage is £3.70 per hour for apprentices under the age of 19, and those aged 19 or over in their first year.

Apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they are aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of their apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are fully funded for people up to the age of 19 and older applicants may be able to get funding from a college or grants available to specific industry or geographical areas.

Jo-Anne Bryan, standard and qualifications manager at Lantra, says: “Embarking on an apprenticeship means you can earn while learning in a way that best suits you – learning through hands-on experience on the job.”

Liz Percival, assessor at Reaseheath College, Cheshire, says they got ‘a good spread’ of students from different backgrounds.

She says: “It is quite a mix. We have got a majority of farmer’s sons or where grandad was a farmer.

“It is about a 60-40 split. One of the advantages is they already have a job and will have two or three years’ experience before they head out into the industry.”

Other benefits include mixing with other students to share ideas and trips to see different farms to the one students are based at.

“If we have dairy farmers, we try and take them to poultry or sheep farms,” she adds.

Businesses can also benefit from taking on an apprentice who has come straight out of school and can be trained according to the needs of the business, and people often remain with the business which trained them after they gain their qualifications.

“I have students that started five years ago still at the workplace,” she adds.

The majority remain in the agricultural industry, moving to better opportunities or different areas. Those who do leave the industry still benefit from a qualification.

Apprenticeships extend beyond the farmgate, with opportunities from packing to engineering.

JCB will bring 171 apprenticeships and graduates into the business in 2018, and actively looking for people from agricultural backgrounds.

Max Jeffery, JCB director of learning and development, said: “Our apprenticeship and graduate programmes are fundamental to JCB’s continued success in the global market.

“Young people with great skills are the future of the business. This is especially true in the agricultural part of our business.

“We actively seek young people with an agricultural background to join our family business, especially our apprenticeship schemes, as the mix of practical and theory while getting the job done is so well aligned with large parts of the agricultural sector.”