Skills are key to stockmanship, but there is often little recognition of staff training or ongoing education, something a new pig industry initiative aims to address.
The Pig Industry Professional Register, or PIPR as it will be more widely known, aims to ensure a sustainable future for the industry and create a professional image of pig production to the public. And as part of a wider strategy, From Sustainability to Sustained Ability, launched in early 2006, PIPR is expected to offer an over-arching training and continuous professional development (CPD) programme industry-wide, under the management of the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC), says BPEX chief executive, Mick Sloyan.
“The UK pig industry is a technical, professional sector and the personal commitment to development requires formal recognition, particularly if we are to recruit new entrants,” he adds.
The principles of PIPR are those which apply to any CPD training scheme, explains Richard Longthorp, chairman of the Strategy Implementation Group and pig farmer. “PIPR has been established to recognise professionalism in the pig industry and encourage lifelong learning by its membership. We want to recognise and encourage development, but in a way which encompasses all those involved, from new entrant, to stockman and on to consultant and owner.
“Delivering a more competitive, profitable and sustainable pig industry will only be achieved on the back of a highly skilled, proficient and stable workforce,” he adds.
There are five categories to register under, with a sixth being added to encourage new entrants to sign up. The initial five will be scored in relative terms, under the categories skilled stockperson, supervisor, manager/owner, adviser/associate and pig vet society member, each requiring a set amount of points to qualify annually.
This approach will not only recognise formal skills and training, but will take into account experience, practical development and attendance of key technical events, making it a less theoretical qualification scheme. “Anyone can register for PIPR, if they can quantify both relevant experience and qualifications, or enough of each in some cases,” says Mr Longthorp.
And, whereas the National Register of Sprayers and Operators (NROSO), a similar CPD scheme for the arable sector, has been initiated as part of the Voluntary Initiative to stave off legislation, the PIPR scheme is to promote business benefits and lift sector performance. “We aim to recognise existing skills and experience and encourage further development through the scheme,” he adds.
“Activities that most involved in the industry will be doing already, such as reading technical journals, attending pig producer meetings or conferences will be eligible for points at varying levels, which means that not only formal training will be acknowledged,” says Mr Longthorp.
“For example, when a stockperson attends a full participatory training day, with 20 people in attendance, he will be awarded up to 24 points. However, when the event was non-participatory, points allocated would be weighted lower, at about eight.” A comprehensive matrix is used to give each activity full recognition and training itself can be more tailored for individual specifications, in a bite-size format.
- To find out more and download relevant forms, contact the NPA (01430 433 030).