Farmers across the north and east have been urged to put themselves forward to become mentors for an industry-led training programme.
Laurencekirk-headquartered machinery ring, Ringlink Scotland, made the plea at its virtual annual general meeting yesterday.
The ring, which also has offices in Cupar, Coupar Angus, Elgin and Oldmeldrum, has run a training programme for youngsters over the past seven years.
The land-based pre-apprenticeship scheme, which is now being rolled out across Scotland as part of a Scottish Government-funded pilot, gives youngsters three weeks of training followed by a six-month placement on a farm or at a rural business.
Ringlink’s group operations manager Gail Robertson, who oversees the scheme, said the group had struggled to find mentors for this year’s cohort and it desperately needed farmers and rural business owners to come forward to take part.
She admitted not all mentors would be successfully matched with a trainee at first, as geography was key to appointing mentors for the youngsters, but Ringlink would do all it could to match businesses with trainees in their area.
“We know we need young people coming into this industry but we cannot do it without host businesses and mentors,” said Ms Robertson.
“We are really loooking for businesses to come forward that have a vacancy or an opportunity to offer full-time or part-time work.”
She added: “To get sustainable funding in place for the scheme in the foreseeable future and to increase it on a yearly basis, we need that industry support.
“If we are able to show that the demand is there from the industry and young people, that helps us justify the scheme to government and fight for more money.”
Fife farmer and Ringlink director, James Orr, recently recruited his second apprentice in three years.
He encouraged his peers to make time for the next generation.
And he said: “In becoming a mentor, you are supporting a young person and believing in them, which in turn will help you to believe in yourself.”
Applications are open for the 2021 scheme, which has 30 places on offer, and details are available from Ms Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01561 376022.
The deadline to apply is March 26, 2021.