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.


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Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?

An introduction to my Nuffield Scholarship topic

Posted by Christopher Padfield on February 12, 2015

Appears in Business

In addition to our family farm, I have worked for a local agricultural college (running NVQ courses in the workplace), run my training business (mainly on farm training of practical skills) and organising NPTC (City and Guilds) assessments. I have been contracted by LANTRA to act as Chief External Verifier for some NVQ qualifications, and work as an instructor on HSE Safety Health and Awareness days giving presentations of safe working practices to up to 500 farmers a day all over the UK.

 I would love to be involved in agricultural training where continuous professional development is seen as a positive, beneficial proposition. Too many times training (skills or safety) is seen as an imposition or obstacle to the business. I would like to find out how farmers in other countries rate their educational experiences, both for themselves and their staff, and how they access ongoing training throughout their career.

 As farmers look to invest in developing their business to meet the demand of markets in the future, one of the key drivers that will determine whether these investments are successful will be the quality of the staff. I would like to explore different ways of nurturing and growing talent, and transferring and building knowledge for those who have left formal education. I would like to see how large and small businesses provide ongoing training to their staff and what aspects could be encouraged back in the UK.

 In my opinion, there is a gap in skills training, particularly for those in the middle. Graduates can often work for large organisations with career paths and ongoing training but for those nearer the ground e.g. tractor drivers who have become farm foreman or stockman rising to herd manager; what options are open? Are appraisals, mentoring, and CPD encouraged? How many foremen have had training not least in soft skill areas like conflict resolution in the workplace, how to recognise stress in yourself or others, time management etc. 

I plan to learn more about the questions raised above and look forward to receiving your comments.



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