Big wheels at Oatridge College for launch of rural employers’ forum
25 May 2012
Stewart Stevenson, the Scottish Government Minister for the Environment and Climate
Change got a look at the latest generation of tractors - and a quick demonstration of driving one - when he visited Oatridge.
There to launch the College's new Scottish Rural Employers' Forum, as part of Skills
Development Scotland's Modern Apprenticeship Week, the Minister could not resist the temptation to climb aboard the massive Case IH 315, thought to be the only one of its kind in Scotland.
The massive machine, with six-foot high wheels, is designed primarily for the
wheat fields of North America, but has been loaned to Oatridge for students to get a chance to learn about it, before it
features at the upcoming Royal Highland Show.
Mr Stevenson was most impressed that 21 year old Kevin Sutherland, from Elgin, who is about to complete a National Certificate in Landbased Engineering and begin a Modern Apprenticeship, has learned to drive the tractor. He can also be reassured that
in spite of its size, the 315 is one of the most environmentally friendly around.
Kevin, who is from a farming family, is to start work with Mark Garrick Engineering in Elgin when his National Certificate course is over. He will travel back to Oatridge on block release during his Modern Apprenticeship. He is no stranger to being away from home, having spent a year in Australia to gain farming experience.
"Although I really enjoy farming, I've always been fascinated by messing around with machines", he says. "The Oatridge course has been fantastic and it just made me more determined to become an engineer."
Rural employers from all over Scotland attended the new Forum where, after the official launch the main speaker was Danny Logue, the Operations Director at Skills Development Scotland. It is planned to make the Forum an annual event, where businesses across the wide rural industry spectrum can learn about the latest teaching and training available and influence the development of future courses.
The event, which was held in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, builds on the successful work of the College's industrial liaison groups, which have
and will continue to concentrate on specific sectors like agriculture, horticulture, animal care, countryside management, equestrianism, horticulture
Brian Williams, the College Business Training Manager and part of the team which drew up plans for the Forum, says: "At Oatridge we are fully committed to expanding the range of employers we are working with, because we want to maximise, where possible, the opportunities for young people to benefit from the opportunities available through Skills Development Scotland's Modern Apprenticeship programme.
"We want to hear from employers what we can do for them and for their employees,
including future employees, while bringing them up to date with what we are already doing and of course, giving them an excellent opportunity to network
with other businesses in their own and other sectors."
Danny Logue says: "Many rural employers have quite specific challenges, which make
the flexibility of the Modern Apprenticeship programme particularly beneficial. Smaller employers operating on tight margins recognise the advantage of having
an apprentice contributing to productivity from day one, while learning the specialisms of their employer."
Stewart Stevenson said: "I was delighted to visit Oatridge
College to open the first meeting of the Scottish Rural Employers Forum during Scottish Apprenticeship
Week. This week offers a great chance to showcase what Modern Apprenticeships can provide for both employees and employers across the whole of Scotland.
"The Scottish Government wants all of Scotland to be a successful country where people want to live and work. Jobs are
our top priority and the record-breaking 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships we delivered last year shows the kind of meaningful and lasting opportunities we
are providing and will continue to build on.
"Apprenticeships can help businesses across all sectors in all areas of Scotland by offering a route to harness fresh new talent. They ensure that business has the practical skills and qualifications needed both now and in the future and the mixture of on and off job training ensures young people learn the skills that work best."
More information on Modern Apprenticeships can be
found at: www.sds.co.uk/modernapprenticeships
or call the Employer Helpline 0800 783 6000
For further information on Modern Apprenticeships at Oatridge College please contact Brian Williams on 01506 864800.