A NEW agricultural and business training programme, “Cultivating Futures”, was launched by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs at the Highland.

The programme will offer those who did not go to college or university, or achieve all the training they desired through their education, an opportunity to pick up new skills.

SAYFC recognised the need for rural youth training more than three years ago when it started developing opportunities for its members, which to date have included sheep shearing courses, cow signals, cattle trimming, lameness workshops, health and safety. Then, last year, the association piloted Cultivating Leaders, a business and management skills programme for its members.

Following a grant from the Scottish Government’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Department of £30,000 for one year, the association is now in a position to further develop its programme, and will be rolling out Cultivating Futures over the next twelve months.

The practical training will be supported by Tayforth Machinery Ring, Borders Machinery Ring and Highland Machinery Ring. Within a new efficiency category, a wide range of topics will be covered, such as budgeting, managing cash flows, writing a business plan and understanding the value of good nutrition management.

An online hub will feature information from the agricultural and rural industry that is of interest to rural youth, including an events calendar, training directory, news – and a section showcasing job vacancies.

And after its successful pilot, Cultivating Leaders will be returning, supported by Scottish Enterprise and Henry Plumb Foundation, offering advice on how to manage succession, goals and leadership, to help those who want to start their own business or take a leading role in an existing one.

National chairman Stuart Jamieson commented: “The re-introduction of the agri and rural affairs committee has allowed the association to focus more on the roots of the organisation, and assisting our members to tackle the industry challenges we face.

"In order to best equip them to do this, we have consulted with SAYFC board of management, national council, agri and rural affairs committee and our various regional groups, as well as stakeholders such as NFUS, to develop Cultivating Futures.

“It has been developed to ensure it meets the interests and needs of rural youth, and through the range of subsidised or free training it will providing a lasting impact that will benefit the whole of the Scottish industry. I would encourage as many members, no matter the geographical location or current experience to take up this opportunity”