Working and learning at Charlesfield Farms Ltd

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Charlesfield Farms near St Boswells in the Scottish Borders has been innovative in their approach to promoting work-based learning in the rural sector, providing vital work experience to enable the completion of a Modern Apprenticeship through Borders College.

Russell Anderson has now completed a Modern Apprenticeship in Business Management as result of Trevor Jackson, owner and Director at Charlesfield Farms Ltd as seeing the value and potential the qualification would provide. Russell was offered a part time role as farm labourer at Charlesfield, which then progressed to assisting in the write up of weighbridge tickets for deliveries to the farm’s AD plant. The role also included helping manage the harvests for Waverly Farm Contracts. Three years since starting the role, Russell is now Procurement Manager of external feedstocks for St Boswells Biogas Ltd and credits the knowledge gained from the MA. The qualification has increased his understanding in how to manage employers and contractors, whilst also giving him the skill set to take on more responsibility and broaden his diversity within the company. Charlesfield has allowed the opportunity to use his qualification on a daily basis, whether that is helping to manage contractors, negotiating feedstock supplies for the AD plant or developing a project manager role.

Russell added; “As I have been working alongside gaining my qualification, I feel as though I have gained more experience than I would have in a classroom. Being hands on with my work has excelled my understanding and knowledge, which has given me the confidence to take on more responsibility and ownership to completing objectives.”

Whilst working and learning at Charlesfield, the range of activities has honed Russell’s skills, from sourcing external feedstocks, such as pot ale syrups and draff from distilleries and breweries, networking with different suppliers, to negotiating the best price for feedstocks to produce gas for St Boswells Biogas Ltd has been exceptionally rewarding. The work has also enabled to him to ‘think on his feet’, utilising the networking skills gained from his position have been instrumental. “I am enjoying my job at Charlesfield farm and I believe I have gained this role due to being versatile and having a good understanding in management thanks to my Modern Apprenticeship.”

Russell’s ambition is to gain more knowledge and to progress up the company’s career ladder by continuing to be versatile and working hard.

As a business owner, the experience has been invaluable to Trevor Jackson and he wishes to encourage other business owners to do the same. Trevor is keen to demonstrate to other businesses, especially microbusinesses, that they are not isolated, and this example shows the sharing of networks and the building of relationships based on trust.