Save Young People, Share an Apprentice!

Do you remember the ‘Save water- share a bath’ campaign? Well, Save Young People, Share an Apprentice! Just in Staffordshire there are over 30,000 small businesses, if half of those shared an apprentice that would be 7,000 young people being given a start!

Our apprentice Zach on the tractor

On Monday, Zach, our 16 year old apprentice, got to talk about his work with Dr Stuart Burgess, the chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities . The CRC are studying the plight of rural young people “to create a picture of the employment, education and training related issues being faced by young people aged between 16 and 24 in rural areas, on the basis that young people have suffered disproportionately from the effects of the recession, to understand where experiences differ from those in urban areas, and to make recommendations for policy by central Government, and at more local levels.”

Beechenhill is a small organic dairy farm and as much as we would love to have lots of apprentices, we can’t justify full time help. BUT- with the help of DART we have been able to share Zach with another dairy farm up the road, Grove Farm at Stanshope.

It is brilliant! Zach is getting the official training he wants; He has passed his tractor test and has become quite an expert foot trimmer! Both farms and Zach are flexible about arrangements so if there is a great learning opportunity at one farm on a different day, Zach can take advantage of it. If one farmer needs extra help from Zach, it is easy to arrange.

I suppose that is how things used to be. It’s just what happened in a close rural community, young people were simply included in the working life of the village. But nowadays the barriers of paperwork and perceptions of insurance, legislation, time required and cost all get in the way of this natural community action. This is where DART have been so helpful.

Initially they arranged work experience placements from school, which is how we met Zach. We all got on; he worked hard and was a bright, quick learner. He started a Saturday job with us and then DART helped him and the two farms seamlessly to start the apprenticeship when he left school.

Because farmers are so isolated it’s not ‘natural’ for them to seek help or assistance. But sharing an apprentice has had unexpected benefits for all three parties, we are all learning new stuff through Zach. The two farms are co-operating and learning from each other where they didn’t before. Zach is making us all re-examine how we are doing things;

‘Just because I have done it this way for the last 11 years Zach, doesn’t mean I won’t listen if you come up with a better way!’

Zach and the tractor

Beechenhill's apprentice Zach and the tractor

Zach is not perfect- he gets very cross if his newly washed tractor gets dirty, but, whatever business you are in, I can thoroughly recommend taking on an apprentice, and particularly sharing an apprentice!

Go on, do it today!!

Both Business Peak District and Stoke and Staffordshire LEP have apprenticeship schemes.

This entry was posted in Big society, Business, Derbyshire, environmental, farming, milk and dairy, organics, Peak District, rural community, Rural Economy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Save Young People, Share an Apprentice!

  1. Great initiative and I hope it continues to work well for both farms and Zach.

    Have you encountered the requirements of the Gangmaster Licensing Regulations in respect of schemes like this? If say Farmer A employs an apprentice like Zach and sends him to work for Farmer B, then Farmer A should be registered as a gangmaster. Both farmers are breaking the law if Farmer A is not registered. It’s different if the apprentice is ‘sent’ for experience by a local college. The Gangmaster Licensing Authority is aware of the problem and its board considered proposals to change the rules at its most recent meeting, but after concerns were expressed by the TUC the proposal is to be reconsidered in January. The following papers give the background:

    Click to access Minutes%20of%2031st%20Board%20meeting%20-%2012%20October%202011.pdf

    Click to access GLA%2031%208.2%20Approach%20to%20Apprenticeship%20Training%20Agencies.pdf

    It’s to be hoped a sensible way forward can be found for apprenticeship schemes like this, which we need more than ever, but farmers thinking of sharing an apprentice in this way also need to have their eyes open to the current position under the Gangmaster Licensing Act. If anybody would like more information I can post more extensively on my own blog:, but there’s plenty to go on in the links mentioned above.

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