UK plug being wired

Our director Liz looks at the value of training in her new blog

I recently tried to teach my son how to change a plug.

It isn’t something we have to do very often nowadays, but I learned it when I was his age, and it’s not hard to pick up. Some key facts, a demonstration, and then a supervised attempt to do it himself - he got it really quickly.

If only all training was so straightforward! I was asked recently why there was so much focus on CPD in the Agriculture Bill.  Well, if I try to make an analogy between the two:

•    The wiring would need to be different in different areas of Scotland
•    The plugs used would all have to be different shapes depending on the output
•    The consumer would need to have a full choice between all the different plugs and wires depending on their personal preference (without necessarily knowing what would be best)
•    And at any moment, an external change might require both the wiring and the plugs to change at very short notice, but the consumer should still have all options available to them with no gap in supply.

And this is why CPD and Tier 4 is critical in both the short and longer term.

Food production is complicated. Getting the food to consumers isn’t straightforward either, and then on top of that there is the challenge in ensuring that people make healthy choices.  So, there is never going to be one course, or one approach that if everyone just followed, all would be well.

A better analogy might be football. We need to coach and train with others so we can cope with whatever might come at us.  To work with others to achieve a united goal, even if everyone has a different role, skill set and fitness level!

Sport, just like agriculture, imposes not only physical and technical, but also mental, emotional and social demands on those involved. When we understand and embrace such demands, we better develop the coping skills that enable us not only to thrive but also to transfer our learning to other aspects of our life.

It’s clear that across the sector there are many technical skills to be developed and honed, even by those who don’t actually think that they need the training. At the same time, there are examples of incredibly knowledgeable farmers who are the epitome of best practice and who really don’t need to be sat in a room learning the basics all over again.

Rather, we need to support them so they can share their learning with others. Whatever system is adopted it needs to be flexible enough to work with both skills development and peer-to-peer learning, and not just be a box-ticking exercise.

The Next Generation practical training fund is a great start along this path. And during this time of significant change its important that we don’t neglect support for the ‘other’ key skills and look after our wellbeing too.