Tuesday, 26 May 2009 17:52

£5m boost for rural West Midlands

Written by  Ruralcity Media

A £5.4m rural training initiative is targetting businesses across the West Midlands.

The initiative aims to raise rural skillsBusinesses will be offered training and knowledge transfer in an effort to raise skills in the farming and forestry sectors.

Grants of up to 80% will seek to make both sectors more competitive.

They will be delivered under the banner of LandSkills West Midlands,

The initiative will complement a range of capital grants from the Advantage West Midlands regional development agency.

It follows a £4.4m grant to Lantra, the sector skills council for the land-based sector.

The money was made available by Advantage West Midlands as part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

Paul John, director of European programmes at Advantage West Midlands, said: "LandSkills West Midlands is all about improving the performance of our farmers and foresters.

"These sectors face challenging times and we intend to ensure that they are well placed to manage the threats and opportunities facing them."

An emphasis on knowledge transfer would see research from universities and other institutions transmitted to businesses in a form they can apply at a practical level, said Mr John.

LandSkills West Midlands had been designed to deliver the wide range of skills and knowledge required by our land based sector, he added.

"The launch of this new programme marks a significant step in achieving the overall aims of the RDPE.

"It will provide training and information in a form, time and place that is suitable for our rural businesses."

Lantra and AWM will work in partnership with employers, employees and training providers to develop new services that meet industry needs.

Opportunities for rural businesses will include traditional training and support for producer groups, study trips, farm health planning and supply chain development.

Ros Burnley, Lantra's West Midlands regional partnership manager, said the initiative would help ensure that the widest range of training and skills opportunities were available across the region.

"The central coordination of the training programme will allow us to be responsive to businesses needs."

In all, some £55m is available through the RDPE to enhance the region's land-based sectors, rural businesses, social enterprises and community projects.

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