STUDENTS FROM Scotland’s Rural College are set to benefit from the country’s first agricultural shared apprenticeship scheme.

Launched to coincide with Scottish Apprenticeship Week, running from March 5 to 9, the collaboration between SRUC and Ringlink (Scotland) – the UK’s largest business ring – will see more than 30 students take up placements at a number of host farms in Aberdeenshire.

With additional funding from Opportunity North East, the pilot scheme will give students the benefit of hands-on experience with at least two different employers over the course of a year.

From its Aberdeen campus, SRUC will deliver and assess the apprentices through its Modern Apprenticeship (MA) Level 2 Agriculture programme, while Ringlink will employ the apprentices and place them with hosts.

The programme will offer practical instruction supported by technical knowledge in a range of general agricultural skills, including handling and care of livestock, operation and maintenance of machinery, estate maintenance and health and safety.

SRUC assistant principal of education Kyrsten Black said: “This new shared apprenticeship scheme offers a more flexible option for both apprentices and employers. Whatever way their time is allotted, the modern apprentices will gain a qualification, learn on the job and gain invaluable skills and experience to help create a flexible, skilled agricultural workforce.”

Ringlink (Scotland) managing director Graham Bruce said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with SRUC to offer young people the opportunity of embarking on a Shared Apprenticeship in Agriculture, a first of its kind for the industry in Scotland.

“The Shared Apprenticeship will not only be a pathway for youngsters who have already completed our land-based pre-apprenticeship, but will also provide flexible placement durations for host employers.

“Many of our members today don’t require a full-time resource for 12 months of the year, nor are they able to offer an insight into all sectors of the industry. For this reason, the Shared Apprenticeship is a great opportunity that mutually benefits all parties and by working together we can develop a skilled workforce for the future.”

ONE food, drink and agriculture sector board chair Pat Machray said: “Agriculture is a significant sector for the North East economy and it is essential that we attract young people to the wide range of career opportunities it provides. At ONE, we are working to grow the sector long term as part of the wider economic diversification agenda and this innovative shared apprenticeship scheme will benefit students and employers with its flexibility and enabling the development of practical skills across a range of workplaces.”

The project received additional funding through the Mains of Loirston Charitable Trust.

To find out more about the new shared apprenticeship scheme, email