Food and farming professionals who have received AgriFood Advanced Training Partnership (AATP) bursaries are reporting huge benefits to their careers and the businesses they work for.
More than 1,000 awards worth a total of £1.2million have been given to those working in agriculture and the food supply chain.
Courses range from one-day workshops to post-graduate diplomas, and attendees say they have used the training to boost sales, develop new products and find solutions to problems within their businesses.
Deborah Kendale, AATP’s manager, said: “The feedback from those who have taken advantage of the funding available for training to aid their professional development has been fantastic.
“We know that they have taken what they learnt back to their business and are using the skills gained with the AATP to innovate and drive agriculture and the food supply chain forward which is exactly what this money was intended for.”
The AATP programme was launched three years ago and offers a bursary of 50% towards the cost of courses covering a range of areas from plant science and feed nutrition to food manufacturing and business leadership.
Funding comes from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Ms Kendale said that a further £800,000 is available from the initiative, to be allocated by the end of 2016.
'There are nearly 100 courses appealing to a wide range of farming sectors and the supply chain'
Roughly one third of training so far has been in courses involving producing and processing animals, one third relates to food and nutrition and the balance focuses on crops, agronomy and business management.
“The training is fully flexible and delivered in a variety of ways, from a one-day workshop to PhD and anything in between,” Ms Kendale added.
“Many courses are offered on a part-time e-learning basis making them even more flexible.”
To find out more about the courses or to apply for funding, go to www.agrifoodatp.ac.uk
Case study: Gary Bruce
Area of training: Feed and ruminant nutrition
Gary Bruce has seen a very direct benefit from taking part in an AgriFood ATP training programme – it helped him to secure a promotion.
Mr Bruce started work at farmer-owned Agricultural Central Trading (ACT) two years ago, after completing his studies for a BSC in Agriculture at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).
He wanted to further his career by increasing his focus on ruminant nutrition so signed up to a series of week-long courses at Harper Adams University, leading to a Postgraduate Certificate in Ruminant Nutrition.
The course, which is primarily aimed at vets and specialists within the animal feed industry, offers students a thorough understanding of recent developments in nutritional science, technology and legislation.
Modules include the principles of ruminant nutrition, rations formulation and feed systems in the UK.
Having completed the programme, Mr Bruce was appointed product manager for feeds and supplements at ACT. He now acts as the main adviser on ruminant feeds for the Scottish side of the company, helping customers get the most from their animals through nutrition management.
Mr Bruce, who is based in Turriff, says the training requires commitment, but it has allowed him to become much more of a specialist in his chosen area.
“It highlights how there is a lot more of a science to feeding than throwing food at an animal,” he says. “You look at it in a very scientific manner and with more attention to detail. The extra knowledge I have gained means I can expand the business ACT is doing in this area.”
The post-graduate certificate course involved attending Harper Adams University for four week-long blocks and completing additional course work at home.
He has since embarked on a postgraduate diploma and hopes in time to convert this into a master’s degree, which would involve completing a longer research project.
“You are always going to gain from doing this. You really benefit from the skills you learn,” he says. “You are also studying with other people in the trade so you make some really good contacts. The people teaching you are also at the cutting-edge of feed science.”