The Pfizer Poultry Trainee of the Year awards for 2011 was awarded last night to James Newman by farm minister Jim Paice at the House of Commons in front of assembled leaders of the poultry industry.
Mr Newman joined Green Label Farms as a basic farmworker at Woodbridge, fresh out of a two-year poultry course at Otley College in Suffolk. Two years into his job the firm put him through a NVQ Level 3 in poultry production at Easton College, where he won an award for the best first-year student.
Upon completion of the course he was promoted to site manager of a 40,000-bird unit at Debach and then, after five years, promoted again, becoming manager of a 140,000-bird unit at Northfield Farm.
During his time at Green Label Mr Newman has completed a number of courses on health and safety, manual handling, machinery and a trailer driving test.
Highly commended runners-up were Michael Kilby of PD Hook and Warran Gittoes of Uphampton Farm. Other entrant Penny Sawyer was lauded for her achievements in researching welfare improvements for turkeys at Bernard Matthews, but the judges decided she represented the ideal finished product of training and not a trainee.
Speaking to the trainees, Mr Paice emphasised how important training was to the industry.
“I passionately believe in skills, training and knowledge because you are going to have to learn new technologies and adapt your careers – how you run or operate in different business sectors – and you’re going to have to adapt many times in the coming years,” he said.
“Training is crucial to any businesses continuing to grow, whether to enhance people skills or technological skills. It’s all going to be very important as we move forward.
“In the next 20-40 years you’re going to be learning to do things even better.”