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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HR toolkits in Canada

Farm Labour - Ken Linington and Peter Sykanda Thursday 8th July

Posted by Christopher Padfield on September 5, 2015

Appears in Business, Crops, Dairy, Livestock

Farm Labour - Ken Linington and Peter Sykanda  Thursday 8th July

Ken Linington is a policy advisor for the Labour Issues Coordinating Committee and also HR Director for Flowers Canada, Ontario.  Peter Sykanda is a farm policy researcher for the OFA - Ontario Federation of Agriculture and is involved in labour issues and farm safety among other remits.

The meeting was a really useful crash course in employing labour in Canada, for the issues at both provisional, federal and international level.  Worker protection is governed at provisional level but trade (and trade barriers) are set at federal level.   Among other acronyms learnt were OHSA - Occupational Health and Safety Act and WSIA - Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

The Canadian Agricultural Human  Resources Council has developed a very impressive HR toolkit which farmers can purchase at an incredible low cost to manage everything from HR Policies, to succession planning to training and development 

 Farmers can move from the legislative minimum (what do I have to do?) to the soft skills (how do I manage people and develop training etc?)  Peter has also designed a spreadsheet which looks to calculate the benefit of training staff.

The definition of a farmer is a gross income from farming of $7000 and this has significant tax advantages. The OFA has approximately 37000 members with an average field size of 244 acres.  Agriculture is an uncertified industry - non credentialised - and therefore has few barriers to entry and little requirement for statutory training other than ensuring that workers are covered by insurance from the WSIB and have completed a mandatory health and safety online test.  However pesticides supply, storage, transport, application and disposal is covered, though it was interesting to note that the application test is not practical.  However it cannot be easy to switch from metric to imperial gallons and then apply with a machine marked in US gallons.

Employers have to have insurance for employees to cover payouts and  prevention and enforcement  infrastructure. For a typical field crop worker this would cost around $2.81 per $100 pay (group 1) to near $8 (group 6) for those working with large animals. Many workers are on piece work but there is a minimum wage of $11/per hour.

We had a good discussion on the need for farmer capacity development. In their view there is a problem with small family farms that decide to grow and move to employing those outside the family. Some farms were quite autocratic in management style, with small financial margins and a lot of decisions were  crises management. They were encouraging farmers to make use of the courses and materials online to plan ahead and avoid problems.

Points to ponder:

The Canadian farmer has easy, cheap access to a range of H&S and HR resources at nominal cost from one place.  Is there a similar option in the UK and would farmers use it?



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