Cream of the crop
New training scheme for young people in the dairy sector.
Scotland’s dairy industry can benefit from offering young people training opportunities that could lead to a long and flourishing career.
The Dairy Skill Initiative, which offers school leavers with no previous farm experience 12 week placements on dairy farms, has today been highlighted by Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham as a key means of boosting the sector.
The initiative is a partnership involving Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), NFU Scotland, Lantra, Dumfries and Galloway Employment Total Access Point and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) aimed at addressing skills issues in the south west and helping young people towards a career in the sector.
The visit coincides with Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead pushing for action on milk prices at an EU level at today’s meeting of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Brussels.
Ms Cunningham visited Auchencrieff Farm, participating in the initiative, near Dumfries as part of a series of events around the Cabinet meeting being held locally. She said:
“Scotland produces some of the very best quality dairy products in the world and it is always a feeling of great pride to see Scottish products like fresh milk, cheese, butter and yoghurts on our supermarket shelves.
“While the sector is experiencing some real challenges due to falling pricing, something we are continuing to lobby both the UK Government and the EU on, there is broad agreement that the medium and long-term prospects for the sector remain positive with predictions of a rise in global demand in future.
“Maintaining and enhancing skill levels in the sector is also key and initiatives such as these offers young people hands on experience of an industry with economic value and real growth potential straight out of school and I fully expect some to go on and have a long and flourishing career in dairy.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting more young women and men into jobs and published a new youth employment strategy last month. While the latest figures show that youth unemployment is at a five year low, we cannot be complacent and our work with local authorities and employers to Develop Scotland’s Young Workforce will promote an improved system of vocational education that opens up work opportunities to all young people.”
Brian Williams, SRUC Work-based learning manager added:
"The uptake of the programme has been excellent so far and the outcome for the trainees very positive. It has opened new avenues for them, while helping meet industry need."
Gary Mitchell, chairman of the NFU Scotland Milk Committee also said:
"We are looking forward to the scheme opening to new trainees in March and will be working hard to ensure schools are involved. We need to ensure we get buy-in from both local schools and farmers."