The work-based pre-apprenticeship programme is an ideal pathway of progression within the rural sector, allowing new entrants to earn and learn whilst also gaining a vocational qualification.

Applications are now open for 2021, but with a closing date of March 26 and training induction will commence in June, 2021, while employment with mentor businesses commence from July, 2021, onwards.

Accredited by the Scottish Rural College (SRUC), the programme is currently funded by Skills Development Scotland on a pilot basis.

The pre-apprenticeship programme provides a meaningful introduction into practical working environments, giving young people an insight into the range of vocational opportunities that the sector can offer through a structured programme of work-based learning.

Up to £1500 of training costs, tailored to individual needs is available and the mentoring part of the pre-apprenticeship will give 26 weeks of full-time employment, typically working 40 hours per week in a suitable rural business.

This programme is very much based on a hands on approach and is an earn while you learn course, with payment in accordance with Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB) recommendations.

Working in collaboration with SRUC, the successful applicants can undertake a three-week residential induction, that involves a range of activities and certificated training:

Certificate of Work Readiness (CWR)

* Tractor driving (three days) plus on the road training

* Rough terrain telescopic forklift (three days)

* Emergency first aid

* Manual handling awareness

* Health and safety risk assessment

* Crop production/livestock production (optional modules)

* Industry visits (when allowed)

Ringlink Scotland is one organisation that supports both the training of apprentices and mentoring them and can provide the day-to-day management of the programme, recruit and support farmer mentors, and provide the training programme for the interns.

Up for the ALBAS awards

FIVE TRAINEES from agriculture have been short-listed for Lantra Scotland’s much-anticipated Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills – the ALBAS.

Those agri-finalists are – Amy Lochhead, Shauna Murdie, Robbie Gray, Reiss Gordon and Ian Armstrong.

* Amy Lochhead (18), from North Berwick, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Agriculture at Carcant Farm, through Borders College. She said: “I was brought up in a seaside town far away from the rural life that I craved. Since I was young, I’ve had an affinity for all animals and had a need to care for them.”

* Shauna Murdie (20), from Jedburgh, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Agriculture at South Riccalton Farm, through Border College. She said: “I took the apprenticeship to develop my knowledge of the business and finance side of agriculture. This will prepare me for a management role, which I hope to achieve in in future.”

* Robbie Gray (18), from Lanark, has been doing an SVQ Level 3 in Land-based Engineering at Ross of Lanark, through SRUC Oatridge. He said: “From a young age, I have had a keen interest in farm machinery due to my dad’s agricultural background. Working within an industry which is quickly moving forward, is an exciting and privileged position to be in.”

* Reiss Gordon (20), from Kirkcaldy, has been doing an SVQ Level 3 in Land-based Engineering at Netherton Tractors, through SRUC Oatridge. He said: “Throughout high school, my main interest was always technology and mechanics. These were subjects I enjoyed the most. When offered the chance to begin this apprenticeship, I couldn’t say no.”

* Ian Armstrong (22), from Inverurie, has been doing a BA (Hons) in Rural Business Management at SRUC Craibstone. He said: “Working in agriculture involves long hours, but this is something I enjoy. I see farming as an opportunity to get back what I put in, which has motivated me. On a farm, there’s always investment and improvements to consider.”

The awards ceremony will be broadcast on social media at 7pm on Thursday, March 4. To find out more, call 01738 310164, or email Lantra’s work in Scotland is supported by the Scottish Government.