Farmer Jones Academy

In our second year of trading, Farmer Jones Academy have been working with FirstPort to develop our idea and business model. We've consulted with our key partners and stakeholders and piloted small academy projects within local schools and community organisations.

A £5k Start-it and £25k Build It award from FirstPort and a 22.5k Carbon Clever Fund supported a 1 year pilot programme within Nairn Academy. The programme's success has attracted attention from STV news and other media outlets.

This exposure highlighted our work to Skills Development Scotland where FJA were encouraged to consider delivering the Food and Drink Technologies Foundation Apprenticeship within Highlands and Islands. Our bid was successful, securing a 440k contract to deliver from 2019 to 2021.

FJA aims to inspire farming, food and drink entrepreneurs through delivering hands on, experiential and innovative educational and community workshops. Brexit will leave the UK with a massive shortfall of skilled workers within these industries and with Food and Drink Scotland's ambition to more than double turnover in the sector by 2030 there's never been a better time to encourage young people into this sector.

From working with government, local businesses and education providers we are extremely aware of the challenges in getting young people into farming, food and drink Industries and this is mainly due to the stigma that surrounds it 'if you're not clever then you can get a job washing dishes or waiting tables' and yet we know that there is so much more to the sector than this with real career progression. The opportunities are endless, offering varied and vibrant career prospects.

Here at FJA we are changing the stigma attached to the industry and helping young people to reach positive destinations. We have signed up 40 students aged 16 to 18 across the North Highlands onto our Food and Drinks Technologies course, this is a record breaking number achieved by FJA according to Skills Development Scotland. We have also delivered masterclasses 'seed to sale' to over 150 Young people aged 14 to 16 as part of our early intervention initiatives in the farming, food and drink industries.

Plans are also well underway to offer a wider community benefit by developing our own accredited training centre where we can deliver training to schools, unemployed, individuals with additional support needs, corporate and local communities through-out the Highlands.

There are organisations who offer similar services to FJA in part i.e. farm visits, school gardens, employability training however we are the only provider that offers a fully loaded combination of farming, food and drink industry experience, entrepreneurial and business workshops, soft skills, personal development, team-building and career progression.

Another unique element to the FJA delivery is our on-line hamper shop, where we work with and support over 30 local food and drink producers. We've invested in a training e-commerce site where students can learn the art of e-commerce in a safe environment with the opportunity to gain real life experience of selling FJA hampers on-line after completing a level of competence. There's no other training provider currently offering this service.

We believe that our Academy and delivery model could be taken across the UK and we are creating a franchise strategy where we can train trainers to deliver the FJA courses and develop centres in rural or remote locations.