Youthful enthusiasm for traineeship scheme

THIS week, thanks to a partnership between the North Northumberland Agricultural Training Association (NNATA) and LandSkills North East as part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), arable farming in the region has received an injection of youthful enthusiasm for their unique Arable Traineeship.

Wednesday, 24th March 2010, 11:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2010, 11:01 am

This is the first arable traineeship of its kind in the UK and its key objective is to counteract the huge decline in young people working in agriculture.

This has been achieved, new blood has been attracted into the industry and now 10 unemployed youngsters are back into training and employment.

For the next 12 months they will complete a hands-on practical training programme with local arable businesses resulting in a Level 2 Diploma in Work Based Agriculture.

The entrants, aged between 17-24, come from a diverse range of backgrounds and are all new to UK arable farming. They include a former chef, former builder and former locksmith.

There are also two international trainees - Julian Gips who has come from a farm in New Mexico and Alon Broadhurst who previously worked on an Israeli kibbutz.

With the UK Agricultural Industry needing 60,000 new entrants over the next 10 years it is hoped that they and all their fellow entrants will become part of its future.

During their year's training, entrants who are employed by the NNATA will learn all aspects of crop management from planting, cultivation and harvesting, through to storage and transportation.

This will also learn complementary skills such road and vehicle awareness, habitat management and health and safety for both themselves and visitors to the farm.

Off site courses will include forklift training, machine maintenance, workshop skills, first aid, vermin control, spray training and tractor driving.

The broad experience of the 10 new entrants demonstrates that agriculture is a potential career for a wide range of people. Many will be adapting previous skills to farm life.

Martin Riley who will be working at Murton Farm near Berwick will show farmer David Armstrong and fellow entrant Graham Hepburn how he can adapt his building skills.

In a move from cooking food to growing food, Tom Sim will be working for Percy Farms on Northumberland Estates under the supervision of Richard Macallister and Jamie Wright, who is working at Whitton Hill near Berwick upon Tweed with John Fairbairn, is hoping his family roots will come in useful- his grandfather was once Chairman of engineering company, Citnage Tractors.

They will be joined by the two candidates whom bring experience of international agriculture to their new roles. Julian Gips, who will be working with host farmer David Cairns at MSP in Berwick, has some experience of farming in New Mexico and fellow entrant Alon Broadhurst, who is working at Broomhill with farmer Julian Thompson, brings his skills from Israel.

Other entrants include Scott Gibson who will work with host farmer Ian Jackson at Bowsden; Neil Harkness who is working at the Lilburn Estate with Ray Field and Ted Meikle; James Cockburn who will work at Galagate with Bruce Martin and Ross Thompson who is working with John Lang at East Learmouth near Cornhill.

Throughout the year, entrants will each build a portfolio of their qualifications and training with references and comments from NNATA instructors.

This summary of achievement can be presented to potential future employers to demonstrate a level of competence and real experience in the industry.

Anyone wishing to obtain details about future NNATA courses should contact Viv Cockburn, NNATA Training Coordinator, (01668) 216579 or visit