For two focused and ambitious Mid Wales farmers, continual professional development proved a critical factor in helping them become successful farmers.
Both are keen advocates of having a personal development plan which helps map out their future career objectives and both utilise Storfa Sgiliau, Farming Connect’s secure online data storage tool, to log their achievements and identify any gaps in their skillset.
Tracy Price runs her own farm business near Llanidloes, and also has an accommodation and tourism venture. New entrant Ernie Richards is a full-time shepherd managing a flock of 1,000 pedigree Lleyn sheep at an upland farm in Clyro. Both say that Farming Connect’s subsidised training provision has given them the skills and confidence to achieve their respective personal and business goals.
Tracy and Ernie were both recently announced as ‘Learner of the Year’ award winners by Lantra Wales, which, alongside Menter a Busnes, delivers skills and training services on behalf of Farming Connect. Farming Connect is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Tracy credits Farming Connect with signposting her towards the ‘perfect package’ of training courses.
“Over the course of many years’ involvement with Farming Connect, I have undertaken training for a number of farm-related skills that I use every day, carrying out practical tasks that I no longer need to out-source.”
“My local development officer has been hugely supportive, encouraging me to also apply for a mix of subsidised business-related and ICT training courses, which enabled me to not only develop my farm business, but also gave me the skills and confidence to set up and grow a successful farm, tourism and accommodation enterprise, too.”
Ernie (28) was not brought up on a farm, but spent every spare minute of his school and student days helping his grandparents at their small sheep holding. Already armed with a raft of practical farm skills through studying for a foundation diploma at Herefordshire & Ludlow College, which he followed with a BSc in agriculture and animal science from Aberystwyth University, Ernie is a former Agri Academy participant, a National Sheep Ambassador and YFC accredited trainer.
A firm believer in ‘lifelong learning’, Ernie is determined to keep on studying new topics that he knows will help him progress his career yet further in the years ahead.
“Farming Connect’s subsidised training provision, which is targeted at those working at a grass-roots level of farming, has added a huge amount to my skillset, giving me essential skills and knowledge I use every day.”
Ernie had already undertaken Farming Connect training on farm health and safety and the safe use of veterinary medicines, but says he didn’t have the skills he knew he would need longer-term on the business management and financial side of running a farm business.
Within the last two years, with hugely supportive employers fully behind him, Ernie’s studies have ranged from business planning, handling cash flow and budgets to making tax returns digitally and book-keeping.
“The family who own the farm where I’ve worked for more than six years have always encouraged me to learn about business management, and thanks to Farming Connect, I’ve now acquired a valuable set of new skills that will help in not just the day-to-day running of the business, but its future direction, too.
“I’m personally registered with Farming Connect, so I found it a straightforward process to select and apply online for appropriate training courses from over 75 options shown on the website.
Ernie says he is already putting all his new-found knowledge to good use, and the family he works for are delighted.
“Alongside my role managing the sheep flock and other general farm duties, they are already involving me in many day-to-day business decisions, in preparation for the time when I’ll be given more responsibility, which will enable the owners to step back when they are ready.”
The next Farming Connect skills application window opened on May 2 and ends 5pm on Friday, May 27.
Any individual planning to apply during this window who is not already registered should contact the Farming Connect Service Centre on 08456 000 813 before 5pm on Monday, May 23 2022.
For further information about all Farming Connect skills and training, Storfa Sgiliau or to view an online version of the ‘Step by step’ guidance booklet on applying for skills and e-learning, visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnectskillsandtraining.
Alternatively, contact your local Farming Connect development officer, the Farming Connect Service Centre or your selected training provider.
Farming Connect, delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.