Latest news 15 Jul 2014

Down on the farm – with a difference

Set in 160 acres of countryside in the Vale of Glamorgan the Amelia Trust Farm is no ordinary farm.

From the outside the usual array of cows, sheep and chickens would suggest otherwise but what sets this farm apart is its core aim of educating vulnerable and disadvantaged young people.

Established in 1991 the farm is now managed by Beth John, recently named as one of the ‘Future Skills… food for thought’ campaign’s Welsh food and drinks ambassadors, who can be held up as shining examples of the direct benefits of training employees and providing opportunities for continued, practical learning. Ambassadors will also highlight the importance of key workplace skills across the entire food and drink supply chain, from agriculture through to manufacturing, retail and hospitality.

The Amelia Trust works with young people in the following age groups 11-13yrs, 13–16 yrs and 16+. In addition to helping them develop their personal self-confidence, the Trust also offers a formal route to qualifications through Open College Network and City and Guilds qualifications

Having been brought up on a farm herself, Beth John, who has been with the Trust for seven years, believes that the agricultural environment can be very beneficial for helping and supporting young people,

“The young people who come to us have usually had to face up to many difficulties in their personal life and we help them discover a sense of purpose and responsibility. It is fantastic to seem them flourish in this environment and see their personal confidence and self esteem grow. The qualifications that we offer in animal care and conservation for example also support their formal development so that they feel they can make an even greater contribution to society.”

In her ambassadorial role Beth also feel strongly the need to promote farming as a thriving and worthwhile career path,

“I am concerned that there is a negative perception of the farming industry out in the wider world and I see part of my role with the Trust as promoting the industry as a valid and rewarding career. The young people who come here to study and visit are often surprised at the level of knowledge needed in various areas to ensure the business succeeds and I would hope that we can play a small part in promoting the positive aspects of agriculture.”

As part of her ambassadorial role for the Welsh Food and Drink Skills Project a short film has been produced highlighting Beth and her work at the Amelia Trust and this can be viewed on the Food and Drink Skills website (www.foodanddrinkskills.co.uk) where you can also see other Welsh food and drink success stories.

According to Caryl Tudor Jones of the Food and Drink Skills Project, the aim is to attract more people into the industry to meet the potential demand,

“Our recent research shows that, despite the Food and Drink sector being Wales’s largest collective employer, employing 230,000 people and generating £6.5 billion a year, there is a shortage of key skills to drive the industry forward in the coming years. The agricultural industry underpins much of this work and our aim, similar to that of the Amelia Trust, is to promote its importance and its attractiveness as a career.

To support this we offer bespoke training, ensuring people have the necessary skills to  keep up with the ever changing demands of the industry and ensure that the Welsh food and drinks sector will prosper for many years to come.”

To develop your business and learn more about getting your employees trained with one of our accredited providers either by attending a course or by in-house training, please contact The Welsh Food & Drink Skills team on 01982 552646 or visit www.foodanddrinkskills.co.uk.

The Welsh Food & Drink Skills Project is supported by the Sector Priorities Fund Pilot programme with funding from the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government, and delivered in partnership between Lantra, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the Land-based and environmental industries, Improve – the SSC for food and drink manufacturing and People 1st Cymru, the SSC for Hospitality and Tourism.