Keep staff up-to-date with training – a case study

Andrew Blenkiron

Andrew Blenkiron, estate manager for Euston Estate, near Thetford explains how staff training has benefited his business.

Structured training programmes for farm employees is not something you see often; doing it properly costs money and it takes time away from getting farmwork done.

But Andrew Blenkiron, estate manager for Euston Estate, near Thetford, argues that with creativity and a focused approach to training your staff it doesn’t have to cost the earth and can really pay in terms of business performance.

“It’s vital to ensure staff are able to cope with the demands of the modern farming business environment we work in.”

The creativity he employs in his training approach utilises much that is free of charge. “The industry provides a lot of support and technical training opportunities that we use here at Euston, such as machinery dealers, levy bodies, manufacturer open days and distributor trials events.

“You can also find skilled people who are happy to show your team specialist techniques such as welding – often in return for a favour or a bar meal after the session.”

From a compliance, legislative and health and safety perspective, he warns that the pressure is going to increase on farmers to ensure staff have the training they need to do their jobs.

“I do a lot of this myself using information from the trade press, updates from industry organisations and trade bodies.”

Euston Estate spends, on average, about £500-600 on formal training for each member of staff every year. “We’ve put our staff in management roles though paid-for training such as time management and the Worshipful Company for Farmers for more intense management training.”

He sees the academy concept of online learning as a useful tool for his team, particularly in earning the professional development points needed for Basis and NRoSO registers.

“Taking Academy modules is free and makes for very effective use of time, without the need to travel. The ability to complete the training in your own time and home must be a more conducive environment to effective learning than a classroom 50 miles away, particularly for people who have been out of formal learning for some years.”

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