A NEW partnership has been formed locally to tackle the skills shortage in the agriculture industry.

The Three Counties Showground has announced the the prestigious Royal Agricultural University (RAU) will be its first ever agricultural educational partner.

The RAU specialises in courses in agriculture, animal science, business, environment, equine science, farm management, food, real estate and rural land management.

Diana Walton, head of shows Three Counties, said she was excited at the possibilities the three-year partnership could bring.

“Our main charitable aim as an organisation is to educate and we’ve really put an emphasis on that over the past few years. This partnership with the world-renowned RAU will allow us to take it to the next level.

“Education will play a huge part in the future of farming, from upskilling the current workforce to educating the next generation of farmers.

“Nothing happens fast in farming and the industry is dogged by the perception that you have to be born into farming to have a career in agriculture - that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Farming offers massive educational opportunities, from qualifications in business management, nutrition, and technology to seed production and environmental issues.

“We want to be at the forefront of redressing the skills balance, and we believe that thanks to the RAU partnership, we can provide a great platform to help.

“We’re looking forward to playing our part by providing valuable mentoring and work experience opportunities for RAU students, and to help educate our members, show goers and the wider farming community.”

Professor Joanna Price, Vice-Chancellor at the Royal Agricultural University said:

“Education and upskilling has never been more important for the land-based sector than it is now - Brexit has turned the spotlight on UK agriculture and the need for increased productivity, while sustaining the environment for future generations.

“Technology, data science and innovation will play key roles in meeting these challenges. However, there is widespread recognition that there is a skills shortage in the agrifood sector and that more needs to be done both to attract talented people from a diverse range of backgrounds to address this.

"The partnership between the RAU and the Three Counties, will help redress this balance, as we work together to raise awareness of the opportunities to a much wider audience.”