Review Needed to Bring New Era to Education Provision

NFU Scotland believes a review of the nation’s agricultural education system is needed now if Scotland is to bring in a new era in land-based research, skills and training provision.

The challenges and opportunities currently facing agriculture and food production show that this is an exciting time for the Scottish rural economy.   The Union is keen that the system that traditionally delivers the necessary skills, knowledge and research to capitalise on these opportunities is fit for purpose.

Recognising present funding constraints, the Union believes any review could refocus the existing available spend to create a more dynamic support for the industry.

NFU Scotland’s President Nigel Miller has put his suggestion of an educational review in a letter to the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead.  Mr Miller said:

“Scotland can be rightly proud of the education, support and research effort that still underpins our land based industries and it is hugely positive for our future that interest in agricultural careers is now growing.

“That increase in interest is set against a historical backdrop of low levels of profitability on farm, high age profile of farmers and issues around succession which have previously threatened the future skill base. Attracting the best of our new generation to the industry is vital to drive Scottish farming forward and a review of our system would be timely.

“In the future, we face the challenge of producing more food of a higher quality from less land and using less resource.  For that to happen, we need a new level of technical support and a fresh look at how we deliver skills, education and knowledge.

“The difficulty is that those looking for training opportunities here are increasingly faced with an established set up which has struggled with funding cuts and contraction. It is a sad fact that our Scottish system, which was once viewed as world leading, is probably no longer the best.

“To drive things forward, we need to examine how we make the most of our existing education sites and set out how they can deliver relevant training and education.  We must ensure they continue to deliver knowledge to the industry and still perform an essential research role. 

“There is a real opportunity to get more value from the considerable talents and assets that Scotland possesses. We urge the Scottish Government to put in place a strategy to review, revitalise and appropriately support skills development and education.  We will need to break down outdated barriers and inject a new energy so that Scotland’s agricultural education provision regains its world-leading status.”


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006




Date Published:

News Article No.: 146/11

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