Otley: Course which gives confidence to aspiring farm managers

Tom Pirkis, a 24 year old farmer from Debach in Suffolk who is currently studying on the new level f

Tom Pirkis, a 24 year old farmer from Debach in Suffolk who is currently studying on the new level four management qualification - Credit: Archant

A land skills college has created a new apprenticeship programme aimed at supporting people wanting to work at a higher level in farming.

The level four qualification in agricultural business management at Easton and Otley College is ideally aimed at supporting farming or unit managers currently in the industry.

The work-based training offers additional business skills and access to discounted costs for industry qualifications in telehandling, the safe use of veterinary medicines, crop spraying, pest control and chainsaw use.

Tom Pirkis, of Keens Farm, Debach, Woodbridge, initially worked as a chef, but realised farming is where his heart lies.

“I’m glad to be working in an industry that I love and this course is allowing me to build on my technical and management skills and everything I am learning is giving me the confidence and skills to help run my own business,” he said.

Jack Fisher is another student on the course. This is his third apprenticeship qualification gained with the support of Easton and Otley College. He said, “This qualification is helping me develop the knowledge and tools I need for herd management. It suits me perfectly allowing me to study whilst working.”

Ellie Sweetman from the work based learning department at the college, said, “Apprenticeship qualifications are great for both those just beginning their careers in the industry or those who have worked for a while. We have over 100 apprentices currently studying at levels two and three and this new qualification follows the same day release system with lessons and assessment work providing an instant and direct application to farm practice management. It is an alternative to our higher education courses in agriculture although those studying on the apprenticeship scheme are given options to progress onto degree programmes if they so wish.”

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“The course places a strong emphasis on the practical application of technical, and business knowledge, information technology, management and marketing awareness. All key skills that will enable learners to gain new skills and embellish established ones. It’s been created as parts of the college’s overall strategy – with consultation from farm businesses across the region – to design programmes and provide training according to industry needs,” she added.