A new national college for land-based careers has been launched to ensure that those working in the sector have access to better training and development.
The National Land Based College (NLBC) will create a hub for colleges, universities and industry experts to collaborate on new courses tailored for the sector.
Courses will be delivered through the UK’s specialist land-based colleges, a new online platform and by industry experts in their workplaces.
The goal is to set new industry-approved standards of excellence, offering clear career pathways and opportunities for advancement.
Qualifications will range from foundation-level courses up to full degrees, and will include continuing professional development (CPD) options.
College chief executive Leigh Morris said: “Working for the first time at a co-ordinated national level, we can build a pool of resources drawn from the very best minds in education and industry.
“We will promote land-based careers, raise the standard of college courses and create cutting-edge training for those already employed.
“So doing, we will meet the skills needs of the sector today and into the future.”
We want to see agriculture become a leading career destination for high-flying students, entrepreneurs and new entrants.
The NLBC’s remit covers a range of land-based careers – from agriculture and game keeping to equine studies and landscaping.
It will be based on a “hub and spoke” model.
A small central team will form the hub, or strategic focal point, and run a virtual college providing students with online teaching.
Meanwhile, land-based colleges and industry workplaces will be the spokes, delivering face-to-face and practical training.
The initiative has won support from Defra minister George Eustice.
Mr Eustice said: “We are very ambitious for the agricultural sector’s future and want to see it become a leading career destination for high-flying students, entrepreneurs and new entrants.”
The NLBC hub will promote land-based careers in collaboration with organisations such as Bright Grow and Grow Careers.
Its online platform will also function as a portal, linking to diverse land-based organisations and a CPD register for graduates.
Chaired by Lord Curry of Kirkharle, the NLBC board has 21 directors – including 10 industry leaders and 10 principals from UK land-based colleges and universities.
It is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.
Seed funding has been provided by Landex member colleges, Landex, and City & Guilds, which contributed £250,000 from the National Proficiency Test Council fund.
The NLBC will receive a percentage payment for all City & Guilds land-based qualifications that are endorsed by the college.