Christopher Padfield - Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?
I live on work on a 4th generation family farm on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border. It is a mixed farm consisting of a Beef fattening joint venture and growing combinable crops. We have been direct drilling all crops including maize for the last decade. The farm is entered into an HLS scheme which is central to our focus on creating wildlife habitat around the enterprise. We also run some stubble to stubble contracting.
After working abroad in Ghana, Guinea Bissau and France, I worked for a local agricultural college mainly assessing NVQ qualifications. I also achieved qualifications in Internal and External Verification and a PGCE (adult education). I then set up a small training company where we offer training services, mainly LANTRA and City and Guilds qualifications, aimed at the land-based skills sector.
When not working, I love riding motorbikes and drinking whisky. Not a great combination though a recent biking trip to Islay managed to get the best of both worlds.
I would like to thank all those supporting my Nuffield Scholarship, not least the Central Region Farmers Trust for their sponsorship, and my wife and parents for their support and backing.
A self invitation to visit Tim Downes, an organic dairy farmer and N Sch. near Shrewsbury led to a really useful discussion on the benefits of discussion groups and benchmarking for developing the business and the staff that run them
A self invitation to visit Tim Downes, an organic dairy farmer and N Sch. near Shrewsbury led to a really useful discussion on the benefits of discussion groups and benchmarking for developing the business and the staff that run them. I guess that the dairy industry is relatively open (compared to arable and red meat farming) due to a long history of recording performance through the Milk Marketing Board and then subsequent bodies. Tim measures his business looking at the Triple Bottom Line of Finance, Environment and Personal Management. Staff recruitment was not limited to local colleges or neighbouring farms, but use had been made of attracting staff from non agricultural backgrounds using 'Job Centre Plus' offices. He recognised that finding people with the right motivation was important and work skills required could be added. Discussion groups for farm staff were encouraged, some groups were just for herd managers, but it may be that some discussion groups would have a natural lifetime.
Whilst all employees had the legal required qualifications - Chainsaw, Forklift, ATV, First Aid it was being noted in the farm meetings that the 'softer' management skills, might be an area to look at.
I had three main points to ponder?
- How do you value the people involved in the business and how do you demonstrate this?
- Some farmers I have met will not train or up skill staff as they will then leave. Is keeping staff unskilled a postive, or allowing staff to leave a negative?
- What motiviates farm staff primarily - good farm, good boss, being involved or wages?