Grants on Offer to Grow Farm Family Skills
03 November 2010
Farmers and their families wishing to develop skills for use on or off the farm are being encouraged to apply for support under the Farm Family Options - Skills Training Programme which has reopened for applications.
Minister Gildernew welcomed the reopening of the Farm Family Options Skills Programme. The Minister said “I welcome the reopening of the Farm Family Options Skills Programme. The focus of the Programme is to improve the skills of farm family members for use on or off-farm. Skills training will enable farm families to improve efficiency on-farm or to source additional income off-farm. I am encouraging all farm families to consider their options and take this opportunity to apply to the Skills Programme”.
The scheme, which is funded under the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme, is already supporting over 1000 farm family members to enhance their skills or learn new ones.
Managed by the Countryside Agri Rural Partnership, the Programme is open to farmers, their spouses/partners and children aged 17 or over and offers financial support of up to £1,000 per farm family member.
A variety of courses can be supported, as Tracey McNally, from the Partnership, highlights “Courses which can enable the existing farm business to work more efficiently are welcomed, but so too are those courses which can develop skills required to access an income from outside the current farm business. An associated training allowance of up to £250 per family member is also available to cover time away from the farm to participate in the agreed training and applicants have up to end of June 2011 to complete their course.”
“Many short courses offered by local Colleges or other private training providers, which are Qualifications & Credit Framework Level 3 or below can be considered. Some vehicle and plant courses are also eligible and agri-related courses which are LANTRA, DEFRA or DARD approved would also be welcomed.”
“LGV courses will only be considered if they have been identified through the Mentoring element of the Farm Family Options Programme. Hobby type courses, renewal/refresher courses or CAFRE courses are also excluded from this call for applications“.
“We are planning a series of skills training road shows in the near future which will provide potential applicants with an opportunity to find out more about the Programme and to also speak with representative training providers and careers advisors. Potential courses can also be identified through course-finder websites which can be accessed through ‘useful links’ on the Farm Family Options – Skills Training webpage www.countrysiderural.co.uk/farmfamilyoptions/skills.php
One potential applicant to the Programme, Kirsty McMullan from a farming family in Co. Tyrone, is keen to see what the Programme has to offer and how it can help enhance her skills. As a young mother she would be interested in potentially earning an income at home, whilst allowing her to spend more time with her young son.
Speaking about the Programme, she said: “I would be keen to consider something like a business administration course which would allow me to bridge that gap between my existing childcare qualifications and those skills required to set up a related business on farm, perhaps establishing a childminding facility, as childcare in rural areas is so often a major issue.”
“Indeed, nowadays, it is definitely a good idea to try to widen your skills and any financial support that could help with that is certainly welcomed. As an added bonus I would hope that any newly acquired skills could also be put to good use on the family farm. “
For further information on the Programme and to request an application pack please contact the Farm Family Options Team on 0845 026 7534, email email@example.com or visit www.countrysiderural.co.uk
Closing date for applications is 14th January 2011. Applications are assessed on an ongoing basis and those interested in applying are urged to submit their applications as soon as possible.
The Farm Family Options Skills Programme is supported under Axis 1 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).