Farm Apprenticeships to Bridge Generation Gap

Modern farm apprenticeships will have a crucial role in producing the next generation of skilled workers required by the Scottish farming industry if one farming company’s experience were to be widely adopted.

Apprenticeships are already a part of the recruitment process at Strathmore Farming Company, at Glamis.  Farms Director David Soutar has previously introduced a graduate management training scheme that has already seen two graduates enter full time employment with the company.  In addition, the company also has recently employed Bruce Arnott, who joined Strathmore in April on a new modern apprenticeship basis and there is the intention for more modern apprenticeships to be created at farming company.

To mark the first Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which runs from September 5 to September 9, NFU Scotland, Lantra Scotland and Skills Development Scotland invited the press to Strathmore today (Wednesday, 7 September) to hear about the role that farm apprenticeships are playing there.

Strathmore Farming Co’s Farms Director, David Soutar said:

“Having a positive approach to the training and recruitment of youngsters keen to work in our industry has been very rewarding and worthwhile for Strathmore Farming Company.  Our graduate trainee programme has proved invaluable in securing permanent members of the staff and I have high hopes that our involvement in apprenticeships will do likewise.

“Bruce Arnott came to us on a new modern apprenticeship in April.  He came to work on our livestock side and has been seconded to help with harvest, giving him a broad range of farming skills and training. He is getting on just great and the apprenticeship has seen him develop a lot in the last 4 months.”

NFU Scotland’s Jamie Smart said:

“In today’s modern environment, there are many career choices open to young people, and all industries must compete to attract them to their sector. This is especially relevant for an agriculture sector that is faced with an increasingly aged workforce and an urgent need to attract new blood in a fiercely competitive labour market.

“The good news is that a growing number of people want to enter the industry and gain both practical and theoretical farming skills. The farm-based Agricultural Modern Apprenticeship presents a tremendous opportunity for the industry to attract young people to the sector in a way that benefits the apprentice, the employer and ultimately the Scottish food and farming industry as a whole.

“The approach to training and recruitment adopted by David Soutar at Strathmore shows the clear benefits that such a policy can bring to the business.  The graduate trainee programme at Strathmore has now been complemented by the addition of modern apprenticeships with the very real possibility that all participants will go on to be valuable, permanent members of the farm’s staff.”

Speaking at Strathmore, Mary Mitchell, Lantra Regional Partnership Manager said:

“A Modern Apprenticeship gives quality hands-on experience while at the same time giving a nationally recognised qualification. They offer lots of benefits to businesses, from dedicated workers to increasing business competitiveness while providing the apprentice an opportunity to develop their skills and career in the sector.

“In order to update a Modern Apprenticeship framework, Lantra undertakes an extensive consultation with Scottish businesses, industry professionals and training providers to review industry’s needs and the delivery model, to ensure that the framework remains relevant and up-to-date. 

“Many businesses across Scotland employ Modern Apprentices because they recognise the value of this training to their businesses.  Modern Apprenticeships are vital to Scotland’s economy and future workforce.” 

The Chief Executive of Skills Development Scotland, Damien Yeates said:

“I’m delighted Bruce is getting this opportunity to join the Modern Apprenticeship programme. We hope many more agricultural employers will recruit apprentices this year. There are real benefits to bringing on skilled, committed members of staff who can contribute to productivity from Day One, while learning the skills they need to be competitive operators in this fast moving sector.”

Notes to editors

  • Strathmore Farming Co (SFCo) is a large tenant farming business farming 5150 acres of mixed arable ground.  In addition, there are 260 hill out-wintered beef cows and 700 high health sows with all progeny finished on the farm.
  • SFCo was recently recognised for the fourth time with an Investor In People award after first gaining recognition in 2001.  It employs 16 full time staff, 26 seasonal staff and third party staff.
  • The land-based training provider, Lantra Scotland, can be contacted on 01738 553311 or visit
  • Skills Development Scotland is the new national skills body for Scotland delivering: Careers Scotland, Get Ready for Work, ILA Scotland, learndirect scotland, learndirect scotland for business, Modern Apprenticeships, Skillseekers, The Big Plus and Training for Work. More information is available on 0800 783 6000 or visit


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 152/11

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