The National Land Based College [NLBC] will create a hub for leading colleges, universities and industry experts to collaborate on new courses designed specifically to meet the needs of the changing and increasingly demanding sector.
Courses will be delivered through the UK’s specialist land based colleges, a new online platform and by industry experts.
NLBC founders said learning would balance theory with practical skills training.
In partnership with the awarding body, City and Guilds, NLBC will set new industry-approved standards of excellence, offering clear career pathways and opportunities for advancement. Qualifications will range from foundation-level courses up to full degrees and will also include a raft of continuing professional development options.
The college’s chief executive Leigh Morris said: “Farmers and those in land based industry maintain 75 per cent of land in the UK.
“These custodians of our countryside face diverse and increasing pressures, from the drive towards environmental sustainability to concerns about food security and public health.
“The goal of NLBC is to equip this, and associated workforces, with the skills they need to flourish.”
Mr Morris said it would be the first time the educational sector had worked together at a co-ordinated national level.
“We can build a pool of resources drawn from the very best minds in education and industry,” he added.
“Collaboratively we will promote land based careers, raise the standard of college courses and create cutting edge training for those already employed. So doing, we will meet the skills needs of the sector today and into the future.”
Farming Minister George Eustice said the creation of the new college highlighted the UK’s ambitions for its agricultural sector and its vision to see the country become a ‘leading career destination for high-flying students, entrepreneurs and new entrants’.
Lord Donald Curry, chairman of the NLBC’s board of directors, added: “In order to unlock the economic potential of the land based sector and compete with other professions for attracting the best talent, we need to have nationally and internationally recognised standards of achievement, to offer clear paths for career progression and equip young people to compete for the exciting opportunities that exist.
“The establishment of the National Land Based College is a huge step towards realising these ambitions and it is essential that key stakeholders now give it their full support."
NLBC’s remit covers a vast range of careers from agriculture and game-keeping to equine studies and landscaping.
It will provide blended learning using the ‘hub and spoke’ model – a small central team will form the strategic focal point and run a virtual college providing online teaching; land-based colleges and industry workplaces will be the spokes, delivering face-to-face and practical training.
The NLBC hub will actively promote land based careers in collaboration with organisations such as Bright Grow and Grow Careers, and will work to attract the very best people into the sector. Its online platform will also function as a portal, linking to diverse land based organisations and a CPD register for graduates.
NLBC has a board of 21 directors, ten principals from UK land based colleges and universities, ten from industry leaders, and Lord Curry.
It is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.
Seed funding has been provided by Landex member colleges, Landex, and City and Guilds who contributed £250,000 from their National Proficiency Test Council fund. NLBC will receive a percentage payment for all City and Guilds land based qualifications endorsed by the college.