From education to employment

Yorkshire Welcomes New £1.5 Million Centre for Food Chain Technology

The local stakeholders and sector leaders of the agricultural sector gathered to welcome a new Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) opening in York.

The new CoVE, which is based at the Askham Bryan College farm in York, was applauded into existence by more than 100 agrciultural policy makers and sector stakeholders. The centre is backed both by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and by Yorkshire Forward, which is Yorkshire’s regional development agency. The centre, specialising in Food Chain Technology, has vowed to promote the understanding of the industry “from field to fork”.

This co ““ operation between the development agency and the LSC sees a logical developmental approach on a local level being employed. The LSC is committed to improving the level of Further Education provision through the process of their funding allocations, and one of their priorities is to encourage understanding and increase the levels of employment. This is an approach that dovetails nicely with Yorkshire Forward’s responsibility, the economic regeneration of the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Foot and Mouth Disaster

The CoVE was opened by Sir Donald Curry, chairman of the Government” sustainable farming and food implementation group and the author of the report following the recent foot and mouth outbreak that caused panic both amongst the general public and in the farming community. The report highlighted the need for farmers to better understand the processes surrounding their food chain, making them more able to diversify at need.

After the opening, Sir Donald said: “This centre will be a crucial support tool to enable the farming and food industry in Yorkshire to really develop a food culture.”The centre already offers practical courses for the industry. Some of the subjects covered presently include butchery, dairy production, food hygiene, food labelling and microbiology. It is expected that learners will be rewarded for their studies with a general working knowledge of the food industry in its many facets, with courses leading to a BTEC National Award, Certificate and Diploma.

Economic Contribution Milked?

The visitors, who included the Lord Mayor of York, Janet Greenwood, were taken on a tour of some of the new facilities. These included the new hi – tech robotic milking shed, in which automatic milkers are guided to the cow’s teats using laser guidance systems. This novel approach operates alongside a more conventional “herringbone” milking parlour, and also a so ““ called “beef centre”. As part of the process, the centre will also see the manufacture of Askham Bryan cheese and the butchering of Askham Bryan beef. It is intended to host a series of masterclasses in this area to keep traditions going that have fallen by the wayside.

The principal of the college, Professor Gareth Rees, which has 705 full-time and 4,500 part-time students, said of the programme to butcher the beef: “We are trying out the Askham Bryan beef on staff and plan to extend sales to the wider public, but judging by the quality, the only trouble we will have is supplying the demand.” He also believes that the centre will help to address the skills crisis looming in the 8,000 local farms, where more than 70% of land ““ based jobs currently demand Level Three skills at least with fewer than half of the workforce achieving that skills level.

Jethro Marsh

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