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National apprenticeship week 2015

National apprenticeship week 2015

Countryfile's Matt Baker meets two agricultural apprentices learning their skills on the dairy farm.

National Apprenticeship Week 2015 kicked off on Monday 9 March. Countryfile's Matt Baker visited rural Cheshire to meet the new breed of young agricultural apprentices learning their skills while working on the dairy farm.

Last year, almost 15,000 students across the country took part in apprenticeships in agriculture, horticulture and animal care. 700 of those are currently completing apprenticeships at Reaseheath College in Cheshire – a county known for its milk and cheese production. 21 year old Jason Smith is a Level 3 apprentice there.

Jason spends one day a week at college, learning everything from breeding to business management. The rest of the week, he applies what he's learnt on his dad's dairy farm in Bostock. "I really enjoy the course," said Jason. "It's good being involved with similar aged people all from different farming backgrounds – I learn just as much from them as I do from the tutors."

Jason's dad Adrian is a former Reaseheath student himself. Having been on the farm since he was 9 years old, he's built on his father's business. Today, there's a lot of young talent on his farm and they're a competitive bunch. "They all want to do everything better and win competitions. It's such a dynamic and exciting industry to be in," said Adrian.

The classroom isn't for everyone. So Adrian's offering another young worker a less formal apprenticeship. 22 year old Liam Roberts has been working on the Smith family for seven years. During that time, he's become the herdsman and is responsible for the artificial insemination of the cows.

What about female farmers? "We've got a lot of women [on the course] this year," said Reaseheath College training assessor Anna Hughes. All three of the assessors are female too. "A farmer told me that he'd much rather employ a woman than a man because their attention to detail is a lot better," said Anna.


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