£20m rural training scheme unveiled

SOME 90,000 aspiring business people will receive training in a government drive for rural economic growth.

The £20m business training scheme will bring new skills and business knowledge to rural areas, helping them take up new opportunities in the home and export markets, said Defra secretary Owen Paterson.

"Having the right skills to run a business is crucial if budding entrepreneurs want to be successful.

"For too long the needs of rural business people have been overlooked. Those days are now over.

"Businesses in the remotest parts of the country will now have access to the best training so they can grow and help our country to compete even more in the global race."

Defra will meet 70% of training costs through its Rural Development Programme for England with the remaining 30% met by individuals or their employers.

Subsidised courses in subjects including business and management, market opportunities and information technology will be open to businesses and individuals.

They will range from one-day workshops to industry-recognised qualifications and will be run on college campuses, in village halls, on farms and in business centres.

The organisations providing the training will be able to tailor the courses to meet demand.

Mr Paterson made the announcement during a fact-finding "rural roadshow" to Herefordshire.

During the tour, he visited Herefordshire College of Technology, one of many colleges offering training in horticultural, agricultural and forestry skills as part of the scheme.

Confirmation of the training scheme was welcomed by rural leaders, including the National Farmerss Union (NFU).

NFU chief rural affairs adviser David Collier said: "Many of our members will relish the opportunity to get specialist training and we expect them to apply in large numbers for courses which are designed to help their businesses to grow.

"However, this framework should have been in place in good time for training to get under way in autumn 2012, which was Defra's intention.

"It is unfortunate that bureaucracy and slippage have resulted in the loss of training over a period of several months, which are a key period of the year for farmer training.

""We hope that Defra will complete the process as quickly as possible, stepping up the communication of what is available and that training providers will do their bit to ensure that farmers benefit as soon as possible from this investment in skills."

The course is open to adults working in the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors or an individual or small business in the traditional rural skills or tourism sectors based in a rural area.

For more information about the Skills and Knowledge Transfer Framework, click here.



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