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East Anglia: Demand for apprenticeships in farming is outstripping supply, warns Edge partnership

09:17 19 August 2014

Clarke Willis, chief executive of Anglia Farmers

Clarke Willis, chief executive of Anglia Farmers

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Industry leaders in East Anglia have joined forces to encourage more farmers to take action to help secure the future of their businesses by offering apprenticeship places.

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A number of the region’s key agricultural figures are urging farmers to take responsibility for ensuring they have an adequate and reliable workforce in future years.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), purchasing group Anglia Farmers (AF) and Brown & Co are all partners in the EDGE Apprenticeship in Food and Farming project which was set up more than 18 months ago to attract high-calibre young people into land-based careers.

So far, the scheme has matched about 280 young people and employers but currently some 70 potential apprentices are waiting to find suitable work placements, with more on-farm vacancies needed ahead of the new academic year.

AF chief executive Clarke Willis said: “So far the project has been very successful but we need farmers to step up now and give these young people the first steps towards great careers in agriculture.

“We know that apprentices can bring huge benefits to businesses and we would certainly encourage more employers to offer opportunities.”

Nicola Currie, CLA regional director, said: “Our industry offers an excellent range of career opportunities for young people these days.

“EDGE Apprenticeships is doing a good job in promoting the scope and variety on offer as we head into exam results time so to back this up we need as many employers as possible to offer placements to ensure that the rural economy secures its workforce for the future.”

NFU adviser Alex Dinisdale said: “Food and farming is one of East Anglia’s most important industries and it’s crucial that we attract more young people, with the right skills, to become the farmers and growers of tomorrow.

“This is not just about helping someone at the start of their farming career - members who have taken on apprentices are overwhelmingly positive about the benefits it has brought to their business as well.

“We hope this publicity drive encourages more employers to come forward, so that young people who are keen to work in food and farming get the opportunity to do so.”

And Charles Whitaker, partner at Brown & Co, added: “Brown and Co are keen to promote a sector which offers exciting and rewarding career opportunities for those with interest within science, innovation and technology in the food, nutrition, land management environmental business that agriculture represents.

“Today’s agriculture and associated support industries requires and offers potential to employees, managers and business entrepreneurs from a far wider section of the community than ever before and among our own business and those we provide advice and services to, we are keen to promote and provide assistance to new entrants to agriculture across the spectrum of crop and animal production and downstream services and production businesses in the sector.”

For details of young people currently looking for placements through the scheme, and case study videos, visit www.edgeapprenticeships.org or, to find out more about taking on an apprentice, call Natasha Waller on 01603 881979 or email Natasha.waller@angliafarmers.co.uk .

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