£20m for rural business scheme

THE government has unveiled a £20 million scheme to help provide work-based training for rural businesses.

Defra minister Jim Paice announced the scheme on Tuesday (13 March). Rural businesses often found it hard to access the best vocational training courses, he said.

Defra's Skills and Knowledge Framework, provided through the Rural Development Programme for England, would offer a subsidised vocational training programme to help improve business skills.

There will be training opportunities in business management and computer skills (ICT), improving resource efficiency, developing leadership qualities, and improving animal health and welfare.

Businesses will also be able to apply for training to improve traditional rural and farming skills and take new business opportunities in rural tourism.

Mr Paice said: "We're investing up to £20 million in vocational training to help rural and farming enterprises increase their profits and get more competitive.

"This is the latest in a £165 million package of support to help unlock the economic potential of our rural areas."

Defra has worked with rural stakeholders to ensure that all training delivered through the Skills and Knowledge Framework will improve businesses' competitiveness and technical development.

The training packages will be delivered through specialist training providers through the Skills and Knowledge Framework.

Following a competitive tendering process, successful training providers will be selected this summer to join the RDPE Skills and Knowledge Framework.

From autumn, eligible businesses will be able to access a whole range of training and development opportunities that will improve both their own skills and those of their employees.

Of the £100 million Rural Development Programme for England funding announced in the Rural Economy Growth Review, Defra has already allocated £20 million to the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme.

It has also launched the £60 million Rural Economy Grant scheme to provide grants of up to £1 million to transform the prospects and profits of agricultural and rural businesses.



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