Ringlink is urging farmers to put themselves forward to become mentors for youngsters taking part in its pre-apprenticeship scheme.
The machinery ring is running a winter intake of the scheme for the first time and mentors are sought in and around Huntly, Inverurie, Ellon, Aboyne and Banff.
Group operations manager Gail Robertson said while these areas were a priority for the winter scheme, which starts at the end of January, any farmer interested in becoming a mentor for future schemes should also get in touch.
“We are keen to hear from any businesses who would be keen to offer a placement to a young person,” she said.
The scheme comprises three weeks of practical training at SRUC’s Craibstone Campus in Aberdeen, then a six-month placement on a farm or at a rural business with a mentor.
It gives participants an SRUC accredited vocational qualification at SCQF level 4, and is an extension of the previous Ringlink Internship, launched in 2013.
Ringlink managing director Graham Bruce said the ring had submitted proposals to government for a three-year pilot programme to extend the scheme across Scotland.
While it had asked for 100% government funding, a shortfall was likely and is something industry should fund.
He said: “Farmers are going to have to start supporting this.”
One farmer who supports the scheme is David Smith of Cloffrickford Farm, near Auchnagatt.
He became a mentor in the first year of the scheme and kept on his intern, Lewis Duncan, who is still an employee on the farm.
Mr Smith said: “It’s important that we keep bringing on young people for farm workers.
“We need to give them an interest in the farm and encourage them to be part of the decision-making.”
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor is asked to contact Mrs Robertson on 01561 377790.