Apprentice scheme on way in Scotland

A modern agricultural apprentice scheme focusing on practical farm skills and minimal college attendance has been developed by NFU Scotland.

It will be launched in time for the next generation of school-leavers this summer.

The apprenticeship, which is expected to take 18-24 months to complete, will carry a wage rate of only £3.50 an hour. The minimum rate is £5.80 per hour for the first 26 weeks of service, rising to £6.32 thereafter. It is expected that the lower rate of pay will persuade farmers to employ inexperienced school-leavers.

NFU Scotland’s former legal and technical committee chairman Jamie Smart explained that the Level Two Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture had been developed in conjunction with Lantra and would be more work-based than previous models and tailored to the needs of individual farming businesses.

He added that the project would attract money from Skills Development Scotland to pay for college time and assessment at up to five Scottish further education colleges.

“It is still to be formally launched but all the indications are that farmers have been put off paying the youngest, most inexperienced workers the same wages as older workers,” he said.

“We have now established an appropriate wage and a course which should persuade the industry to take on and train the young people we so desperately need.”