I am very pleased that this scheme has been extended to offer further places for young people who wish to gain work experience on farms and rural businesses.
Six young people signed up to the first round of internships in 2013, which were run as a partnership between Aberdeenshire Council, Ringlink (Scotland) Ltd and the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society Ltd (SAOS).
Five of the interns have now successfully completed the pilot scheme and were presented with their completion certificates by Councillor Bill Howatson, chairman of the council’s Rural Affairs Working Group, at Thainstone on Thursday 16 January. The sixth intern left early to take on full time employment in the agriculture industry.
Following the success of the pilot scheme, 12 more internship places are now available to young people in Aberdeenshire and beyond this year.
The scheme is aimed at school leavers, to help them gain the vital work experience needed to boost their employment prospects, but all applications will be considered on their individual merits. Applications for the scheme are being invited by the end of April.
The 2014 internship scheme will continue to be managed by Ringlink (Scotland) Ltd and supported by Aberdeenshire Council and SAOS. Generous funding contributions from NFU Scotland’s Centenary Trust, The Mains of Loirston Charitable Trust, AgriScot and the Royal Northern Agricultural Society have enabled the number of internship places to be increased from 6 to 12.
The internships offer an individualised and highly-practical work-based programme for people who wish to pursue a career in the land-based sector.
Successful candidates will be matched with a local farm or rural business for a work experience placement which starts with a two-week induction and training programme, incorporating safe methods of working, manual handling and instruction in tractor driving.
The 26-week placement will see interns working in practical work-placed environments under the supervision of a mentor along with further training and tuition sessions. Interns are paid in line with industry requirements, and will be expected to work a 39-hour week.
Ewan Will, 16, from Insch, one of the interns who completed the scheme, said: “Having been involved in the internship for the full six months, I found the programme to be just what I was hoping for. Entirely practical, learning about a range of businesses and getting training which will be really useful both now and in the future, and will stand me in good stead.
“The whole process, from the application to induction and training, and then practical experience and continued on-the-job training, has been a great foundation for me just starting out in the working world.”
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Cllr Peter Argyle, said: “I am delighted that the pilot internship scheme has been such a success and that it is going to be continued and expanded to offer opportunities to more people.
“The agricultural sector plays an important part in Aberdeenshire’s economy and it is vital that we are attracting bright young people to consider the rural sector as a career of choice to help drive the industry forward. I wish the successful interns all the best of luck for the future.”
Councillor Howatson said: “Presenting completion certificates to the first round of successful interns, they told me how much they’d enjoyed the scheme and the opportunities it has opened up for them. This is a great way to introduce new talent into the agricultural sector and boost employment opportunities for people in Aberdeenshire.”
Graham Bruce, Managing Director of Ringlink (Scotland) Ltd said: “For many years we have advocated the benefits of an entirely practical work-based programme and we are delighted with this year’s outcome. Aberdeenshire Council was the catalyst for this initiative by providing the funding for the pilot and together with the other funders has allowed phase 2 to go ahead across the wider rural industry. This as a major step forward in our long term aspiration to deliver a recognised program of training and education designed to encourage young people into the agricultural and associated industry.”
Head of Cooperative Development at SAOS, Jim Booth, said: “The first intake of interns was a great success which is full credit to many people, particularly the individual interns, farmer mentors and Ringlink. One of the surprises for me was the overwhelming support and positive reaction from the whole farming industry, and other rural organisations. Everyone seemed to understand how important it is to attract new blood into the rural sector so wanted this initiative to succeed and were willing to back it.”
The application process is now open until the end of April. Interviews will take place in May and a maximum of 12 places will be made available for successful applicants.
Further information on the internship can be found at http://www.ringlinkscotland.co.uk/component/content/article/1-latest-news/35-internship-scheme or by emailing Peter Wood, Ringlink Services Training Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.