Artis' New Solution

by Jack Ward

A new, industry-focused training academy will keep growers and advisers up to date with the latest crop production technologies and practices demanded by the UK’s £100bn food chain.

ARTIS (Agri-Tech Register and Training for Innovation and Skills) has been developed to address the current fragmented approach to training provision which is holding back the competitiveness and profitability of UK agriculture. Evidence demonstrates that the farming industry lags significantly behind other sectors in its uptake of training opportunities, with just 41% of farm businesses providing training to their staff compared with a national average of 65%.

The aim of this new initiative is to improve the consistency, quality and accessibility of training – delivered in a usable and relevant format – for businesses and employers of all sizes operating in the arable, vegetable and fruit sectors.
The new Academy will be led by NIAB, G’s Growers, LANTRA and East Malling Research, and will provide a new mechanism to support knowledge exchange between the research base and industry. The three-year, £3.6m programme is supported by £1m in Government funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), alongside industry co-investment.
Central to the ARTIS project is a network of employer-led steering groups covering arable crops, vegetable and salad crops, fruit and soils. These steering groups bring researchers, farmers and agronomists together with the technical representatives of major supermarkets and food processors to identify key research outcomes and topics with immediate practical and commercial benefit for growers and the entire food supply chain.
The UK Agri-Tech Strategy has signalled a renewed policy emphasis on productive, hi-tech agriculture, highlighting the vital role of applied research and increased collaboration between public and private sector. It also recognises the need to strengthen industry-level training and skills provision to support more effective uptake and application of research outputs.

The ARTIS project responds directly to this challenge by ensuring that the knowledge transfer process is demand-led, based on the latest applied agricultural and horticultural research, and focused on delivering practical solutions to employers’ business needs.
Places on the first set of ARTIS classroom and field-based training courses, available from Autumn 2014 through to Spring 2015, can be booked online at www.artistraining.com.

Jack Ward CEO British Growers said ‘A more structured approach to training beyond our Universities and Land Based Colleges is long overdue. There is excellent provision at our universities and agricultural colleges but once someone leaves full time education, the opportunities for specialist training are more limited. Most major industries have structured development programmes to ensure their staff at all levels upskill and keep pace as the industry develops. A similar opportunity for horticulture is a welcome development’.