Plans for a £2.7million expansion of agricultural provision in Suffolk and Norfolk were unveiled at a farmers evening held at the Otley College campus of Easton and Otley College.

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Around 50 guests heard college principal David Lawrence commit to working more proactively with the farming industry in this region, as the college announced it would be using a new £900,000 Skills Funding Agency grant and additional college funds to invest £2.7m in agricultural and land-based facilities on both campuses.

In a discussion entitled ‘meeting the agricultural skills challenge’, Mr Lawrence then set out his agricultural vision.

“We have an ageing workforce and an ageing population so we need to find a new generation coming through. We need to increase skills levels,” he said.

“We need to ensure that we have a supply of capable, technically qualified individuals to support all elements of the agricultural industry in East Anglia by focussing on careers in conjunction with quality and relevant provision.

“We need to work with young farmers, schools and engage with secondary school students and the Suffolk and Norfolk shows. We want to improve our resources on both sites.

“Within this we will be working more closely with local industry to ensure that we are training young people the right skills to make a positive impact in the agricultural world.

“It won’t be easy, but we are determined to put agriculture and land-based studies at the heart of the college. The hard work starts now but we are ready for the challenge.”

After the talk, local farmers then fed back their opinions on what had been discussed and gave strong support to the overall strategy.

Chair of governors Sally Bendall thanked everyone for attending.

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