Otley: College part of new drive to create apprentice programe for East Anglia’s food and farming industry

A drive to create a new apprentice programme for East Anglia’s food and farming industry is launched today.

The newly-merged Easton and Otley College will be crucial to the delivery of this industry project, which is also supported by the country’s biggest agricultural buying groups, the AtlasFram Group and Anglia Farmers.

Employer members of the co-operative groups are being urged to provide feedback as part of the overall design of the long-term apprentice training programme. This new technical apprenticeship programme, which is also supported by Suffolk County Council and Norfolk County Council, has been assessed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and been accepted for the development stage.

As the industry has struggled to recruit staff with the appropriate technical skills needed for an increasingly demanding and technological industry, the outcome of this consultation process will help to shape the thrust of future training across all sectors.

It seeks to attract more young people into the industry from a range of backgrounds, identify new apprenticeship placement opportunities on farms and to introduce new skills into the apprenticeship training programme to address the greater dependence of the industry on technology.

Richard Anscombe, chief executive of Mid-Suffolk based AtlasFram Group, said: “It is important for the future success of the agricultural industry that there is a well trained and skilled young work force looking forward to building their careers.

“I am pleased that AtlasFram is working on this key project which has the potential to make a real difference in creating opportunities within agriculture.”

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Clarke Willis, chief executive of Norfolk-based Anglia Farmers, said: “To enable this bid to succeed it is essential that we have as much business feedback as possible.

“We need to make sure that the proposed activities are clearly addressing industry needs and to demonstrate to the government that the project has the active support of the industry.”

Members are urged to complete the survey online - www.surveymonkey.com/s/2CJPS7D

Hard copies are available on request from info@angliafarmers.co.uk or info@atlasfram.co.uk

The newly-merged Easton and Otley College formally started business on August 1 when members of the 14-strong governing body elected Suffolk farmer, Sally Bendall as chairman.

College principal David Lawrence, said that the identity of both colleges will be retained in the new name, Easton and Otley College, which will have a total of about 700 staff at both sites. “They’re both virtually the same size and it effectively doubles the size of the college,” he added.