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Posted: October 10 2008

Soil Association Organic Apprenticeship Scheme - encouraging young people and new entrants into organic farming

10 October 2008
The Soil Association is officially launching its Organic Apprenticeship Scheme in October following a one-year pilot phase. 
The Soil Association Organic Apprenticeship Scheme is a two-year programme that is being run in partnership with the Organic Growers Alliance and the Organic Advisory Service.
The main aims of the scheme are to encourage young people and new entrants into organic farming by offering a structured, practical training programme and to promote organic farming as an attractive career choice. We also aim to help provide employment opportunities for those at the end of their apprenticeships by linking them together with our network of over 2800 organic producers. 
The twin threats of climate change and unpredictable energy supplies mean that farming systems will come under increasing pressure to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels leading to an increased demand for highly skilled and talented farmers, land workers and organic business entrepreneurs. 
There will be an open-day on 22 October, at Hawkwood College, near Stroud, to give new and hopeful apprentices a chance to find out more about the scheme. 
Ben Raskin, Soil Association Horticultural Development manager, said:
“I believe that apprenticeships are the key to maintaining a well-equipped and experienced farming workforce. This scheme presents a great opportunity for anyone looking to start a career in organic farming or growing - particularly for those who choose not to take a formal education route.” 
Pete Richardson, of Coleshill Organics who took part in the pilot scheme as a mentor and will be giving seminars to the apprentices in the coming year, said: 
"The future of farming and growing in this country depends on finding and motivating young people to work on the land and giving them the practical skills to succeed." 
Main aims of the Soil Association Organic Apprenticeship Scheme:

  • To offer a structured, and practical training package to encourage young employees and new entrants to organic farming, growing and food production.
  • To train apprentices to a high standard of practical skill and knowledge and help maintain a highly skilled and talented work force for organic farms.
  • To promote organic farming as an attractive career choice and to provide practical advice and inspiration for school children, students and careers advisors.
  • To achieve a mutually beneficial relationship between the mentor and the apprentice, where the apprentice is there to learn but also to contribute their skills.
  • To provide a social network for all apprentices involved (both regional and national) to give them the opportunity to build relationships through training, meetings and social events.