New service from Lantra aims to raise quality of entrants to agricultural industry

Ryan Paxton, a shining example of an agriculture modern apprentice. Ryan is currently  working at Buccleuch Estates, and was runner up Agriculture Learner of the Year at the Lantra awards.
Ryan Paxton, a shining example of an agriculture modern apprentice. Ryan is currently working at Buccleuch Estates, and was runner up Agriculture Learner of the Year at the Lantra awards.

Employers and potential employees within the Scottish agriculture industry should find it easier to get in touch with each other and learn about the benefits of Modern Apprenticeships, thanks to a new initiative from Sector Skills Council, Lantra.

Supported by NFU Scotland and the Scottish Government, MA Connections provides a free and confidential service to farmers looking for new employees and to people seeking more information about careers in agriculture through a Modern Apprenticeship. By matching up jobs and job seekers in a single database, Lantra aims to save farmers and trainees time and effort.

Information about the service is available at and covers all aspects of Modern Apprenticeships, including work-based learning, how training is delivered, and what’s expected of employer and employee.

Modern Apprentices are employees who are paid a wage and learn from the skills and experience of people around them while gaining skills and working towards a nationally recognised Scottish Vocational Qualification.

Employers, employees and training providers work together in partnership and Modern Apprenticeships typically take from one to three years to complete.

Training takes place through Borders College, SRUC, Orkney College UHI and Train Shetland in Scotland, and helps the employees to get a wider understanding of their job.

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, said: “The importance for young people to see agriculture as a rewarding, fulfilling career is unquestionable. A vibrant Scottish farming industry will only be secured by attracting young talented entrepreneurs.

“But opportunities need to exist. Modern Apprenticeships play a big part in the Scottish Government’s pledge to support youth employment and I welcome this initiative from Lantra and its partners as a means to promote awareness, understanding and uptake of Modern Apprenticeships in agriculture.”

Kevin Patrick, Director, Lantra Scotland commented: “Against the backdrop of an ageing workforce, MA Connections is designed to help improve the quality and impact of new entrants to a vibrant, diverse and increasingly technical agricultural industry in Scotland. Lantra, with strong support from NFUS and the wider farming industry, has helped develop Modern Apprenticeships to provide a high quality, work-based route to a rewarding career in agriculture.

“We’re delighted to be launching MA Connections, which will help raise awareness and understanding of what’s involved, and link farmers with potential apprentices. Farmers will benefit from enthusiastic and committed new entrants, apprentices will benefit from the skills and experience of their employers, and both will benefit from the support and guidance of experienced training providers.

“Whether you want to get your career off to a great start or provide a boost for your business, visit our MA Connections website now to find out more.”

NFU Scotland Vice President Andrew McCornick commented: “NFU Scotland welcomes this new initiative which will make it easier for young people to get a start in the industry, but likewise will give farmers an avenue to find young people to work with them to keep their businesses moving forward.

“The Union was instrumental in starting up the level 2 Modern Apprenticeship and has also pushed for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for apprenticeships so we are pleased this has come to fruition.

“We will continue to support Lantra and the project going forward and help it to progress at every opportunity.”

John Glen, Chief Executive, Buccleuch Estate said: “We have been taking on Modern Apprentices on our farms for nearly ten years now, so understand the value to our business and to the wider rural community of employing people in this way.

“Trainees are given a structured framework in which to learn, but very quickly become productive members of our team, able to do the jobs we ask of them.

“Assessment and support within Modern Apprenticeships are provided for us by Borders College and they have been very helpful in ensuring the admin side of things is as straightforward as possible.

“Buccleuch Estate is committed to the Modern Apprenticeship scheme, but we also believe that MA Connections has the potential to be extremely useful in bringing together farmers and potential staff elsewhere in the country too.”

The first phase of MA Connections will focus on Modern Apprenticeships in Agriculture, and may be expanded to include other land-based and aquaculture industries in the future.

Lantra also plans to pilot a multi-employer Modern Apprenticeship scheme enabling apprentices to gain hands-on work experience across different farms, helping them to gain wider industry experience to meet the needs of their college assessments.

To find out more about MA Connections call 01738 646762 or visit