Skills Audit - Wales by ashrafp



         “Identifying the skills requirements of
         those managing or working within
         agriculture   or   agriculture   related
         businesses within Pembrokeshire and

Presented by:
Landsker Business Consultancy Ltd

Report Date: 22 August 2008

                   EUROPEAN UNION               Page 1 of 59
                   European Social Fund
                   Article 6 Innovative
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008


1     Executive Summary .................................................................................................... 4

2     Acknowledgements .................................................................................................... 6

3     Introduction ............................................................................................................... 7

4     Key Background Factors ............................................................................................ 7

5     Methodology ............................................................................................................. 9

    5.1      Skills Audit Secondary research undertaken ..................................................... 9

    5.2      Skills Audit Primary research undertaken ......................................................... 9

      5.2.1         Telephone & face to face interviews ......................................................... 9

      5.2.2         Paper/email questionnaire ........................................................................ 10

6     Results and findings ................................................................................................. 11

    6.1      Skills Audit Secondary research results & findings ......................................... 11

    6.2      Skills Audit Primary research findings ............................................................ 12

      6.2.1         Telephone & Face to Face interviews ....................................................... 12

      6.2.2         Paper/email questionnaire ........................................................................ 22

7     Recommendations .................................................................................................... 50

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Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

  7.1    Skills Audit Recommendations ........................................................................ 50

  7.2    Sector Skills Requirements ............................................................................... 50

    7.2.1      Sector skills requirements for the short term (0 – 2 years) ...................... 50

    7.2.2      Sector skills requirements for the medium term (2-5 years) .................... 51

    7.2.3      Sector skills requirements for the long term (5 years +) .......................... 53

  7.3    Key skills shortfalls and suggestions to improve skills ................................... 53

  7.4    Under utilised skills and suggestions to increase usage ................................... 56

  7.5    Skills audit next steps and project plan ............................................................ 57


Telephone/face to face interview template

Paper/email questionnaire

STEEPLE analysis for skills audit

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1   Executive Summary

This Skills Audit report aims to identify the skills requirements of those managing or
working within agriculture or agricultural related businesses within Pembrokeshire and
Carmarthenshire. The project context sits within the European Union’s Article 6
Harnessing Rural Capital Programme.

The Skills Audit report was conducted between January and April 2008 and involved
secondary documentary research and two types of primary research involving interviews
with South West Wales agricultural sectoral representatives and the completion of
questionnaires by local farmers and agriworkers. The main purpose of the project was to
assess existing and future skills requirements within three key areas. These were (1)
Practical farming/agricultural skills, (2) Administrative/IT Skills and (3) People skills.
Also sought was information around the current delivery of skills training and
development and how this may be improved.

Key findings revealed the following:

   Generally speaking all surveyed considered that the level of Practical skills within the
    agricultural community was of a high quality. Especially well rated were animal
    husbandry and “standard” machinery operation. Practical skills requiring
    improvement included crop husbandry and agronomy and peripheral skills such as
    building and construction.

   Some believe that Administrative/IT skills are good whilst others disagree. This
    related to tasks such as book-keeping, use of the internet and email, adherence to farm
    compliance schemes and so on.

   The agricultural sectoral representatives surveyed assessed that People skills
    generally within agriculture were poor or at best ok, whilst those completing
    questionnaires rated this aspect of their skillset better. There was common agreement,
    however, that skills such as negotiating and influencing skills were good but diverse
    views arose about areas such as managing family relationships, managing contractors
    and being receptive to new ideas.

The research found that future skills requirements needed locally included:

   Practical – crop husbandry, crop agronomy and renewable energy

   Administrative/IT – Being able to access grants, cashflow management and
    budgeting, Farm business management, better using IT packages and marketing (of

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       People – Awareness raising of the importance of man management and then
        “managing well”, maintaining buyer relationships, networking/knowledge sharing
        and teaching/training.

Research found that training delivery was fair to good. Suggestions to improve future
delivery and take up of skills included:

        Greater establishment and development of local discussion groups.

        Farmers to promote training to other like minded farmers who are receptive to

Any training constructed and developed needs to be:

       Specific to South West Wales needs (and is broadcast as such)

       Delivered locally in appropriate settings

       Timed appropriately to take account of farming activities

       Promoted so that benefits to the farm business are clear

       Delivered by skilled trainers who can empathise with the delegates

       Subsidised or free

       Good quality farm business consultants need to be made available to farmers

       Train the trainer sessions need to take account of core findings

       Farm visits of model or pilot projects to suggest best practice or alternative ways.

Consistent and agree collective activity by a number of large and local organisations with
a stakehold in West Wales farming is needed to effect real skills change. Farmers face
many financial challenges and opportunities now in what has become a volatile
marketplace and it is critical to ensure that they are equipped with the right skillset now
in order to effectively and efficiently run their businesses. The pace of change within
farming is also accelerating, therefore, new programmes need to be developed and
implemented to ensure that future farming generations are suitably skilled to run
successful agricultural businesses.

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2   Acknowledgements

The following acknowledgements and thanks are given to those who made the content
and compilation of this report possible.

PLANED Personnel - including Alison Ebsworth Project Officer, Nick James Project
Manager, Steven Bradley Agricultural Support Manager, who provided contact
information and gave direction to the Landsker project team.

Coleg Sir Gar Gelli Aur personnel – Including John Griffiths and Llinos Davies who
have worked with Landsker to devise and deliver complimentary services to the
agrisector in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire as part of the Article 6 Programme.

Landsker Business Consultancy Ltd consultants – including Walter Simon and Juliet
Fay who undertook primary interviews of local agricultural leaders/representatives and
assisted with the compilation of the report.

Landsker Business Consultancy Ltd project personnel – including David Selwyn who
developed the questionnaire frameworks, data entry routines, analysis algorithms and
graphical outputs and assisted with day to day project management. Emma Brace and
David Burger who undertook significant administration tasks involved with mail shots,
telephone follow up and data entry of questionnaire responses.

And last but not least the 23 local agricultural/business/community
leaders/representatives who were prepared to offer their views on local agri matters and
the 66 members of the local agricultural and farming communities who kindly took the
time and care to complete and return their questionnaires.

For and on behalf of Landsker Business Consultancy Ltd.

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3   Introduction

On the 31 October 2007 PLANED issued two Invitation’s to Tender study opportunities
to Landsker Business Consultancy Ltd (LBC). Both projects related to Harnessing Rural
Capital and are umbrella funded under European Article 6 designation. LBC
subsequently tendered for and was awarded contract delivery of both projects.

The projects concerned:

 “Identifying the skills requirements of those managing or working within agriculture
  or agriculture related businesses within Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire”
 “Identifying the viability of the future development of “Skills Rings” for those
  working within agriculture or an agricultural related business within Pembrokeshire
  and Carmarthenshire.”

LBC undertook both projects jointly for economies of scale particularly project
efficiency, budgetary and time constraints. This report presents the general project
background for both projects but focuses on the key findings arising from the Skills Audit
work. To gain a full picture of the work conducted the reader may wish also to review the
accompanying report focusing on the Skills Rings findings.

Section 4 of our report describes key background factors that were taken account of in
constructing this report and section five outlines the project methodology taken. Section
six presents the project’s findings and the report ends in section seven with our
recommendations and guidance on what steps need to be taken to act on the Skills Audit

4   Key Background Factors

This project and report sits within the Article 6 Harnessing Rural Capital Programme
which is being core funded by the European Social Fund. Article 6’s prime remit is about
providing innovative approaches to the management of change and restructuring in the
agricultural and agri-food sectors. The programme is focusing on the four areas of Rural
Capital: Human, Social, Infrastructural and Natural Capital.

A cross border approach involving three European Union countries, Southern Ireland,
Sweden and Wales forms the backdrop for the study and it is anticipated that the results
and conclusions arising from each country study may be benchmarked against the others
to determine “best practice” and generally to knowledge share. The overall project is
being co-ordinated by Ballyhoura Development Ltd in Southern Ireland.

Although there is a tripartite country approach to this study the view was taken by LBC
that due to different factors between each country (concerning geographic, demographic,
economic, political, cultural differences) the local study in Carmarthenshire and

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Pembrokeshire should be undertaken as a stand alone project which would provide
information to be fed into the Article 6 Harnessing Rural Capital management body at
Ballyhoura. For this reason, limited attention was given to Skills Audit studies
undertaken in Sweden or Ireland. To have done this would potentially have applied an
inappropriate structure to the unique agricultural conditions faced by Carmarthenshire
and Pembrokeshire agriworkers. Therefore, the work undertaken locally was specifically
designed to gain information and reflect current farming characteristics in South West

The farming audience at whom the Skills Audit study was aimed had minimal notice of
its application and purpose and all participation was voluntary. Early piloting of the
primary research methods indicated that those working within agrisector are frequently
“surveyed” and “studied” with the content often being of a generic nature with limited
personalisation to local operating characteristics. Consequently, it was difficult to gain
the voluntary participation of farmers and agriworkers to complete a paper or electronic
questionnaire. Of approximately 500 questionnaires distributed only 66 were returned
within a six week timeframe; this represents a low response rate of just 13.2%. It must
also be noted that an additional 500 letters inviting participation were sent to datalists
provided by PLANED and Coleg Sir Gar. A financial encouragement of a prize draw for
two participants to the value of £50 was made and anecdotal feedback suggests that if this
had not been given then the response rate would have been much lower. The low
response rate indicates possibly disaffection amongst the target audience towards
participation in such studies. This may be attributable to their perceiving little or no
benefits or changes to them as a result of their input and the undeniable fact that farmers
are facing challenging times with many being preoccupied with cost minimisation and
income generation. Being conscious of this disaffection, it is LBC’s intention to provide
information which is locally relevant, can be acted upon and which may make a positive
difference to local agri-communities.

LBC was commissioned to begin this study in December 2007. The survey elements were
completed in early Spring involving face to face interviews and questionnaire activity. A
longer elapsed project timescale would have elicited a more detailed and comprehensive
response from the target audience and altered the manner in which the primary research
elements was conducted. Nevertheless, LBC believes that significant data from this
study has emerged on which future management decisions towards the way that
agricultural workers in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire can be made. However, the
low response rate means that segmentation analysis (eg dairy versus arable farmers, or
younger versus older survey recipient data) may not be representative of the wider
agricultural sector.

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5   Methodology

Having reviewed the original work tender, LBC determined that a dual research approach
would be adopted to complete the study. This entailed undertaking secondary research to
determine what relevant studies had been already done that may inform this project and
conducting original, locally focused primary research. This section details both elements.

5.1 Skills Audit Secondary research undertaken
Opinions were sought from local agricultural contacts on appropriate secondary data to
review and LBC undertook some high level web based research to source other
information in the public domain. The documents considered relevant and subsequently
reviewed were as follows:

   Lantra Future Skills Wales Survey 2003, Lantra Future Skills Wales Survey 2005

   Lantra Sector Skills Agreement Telephone Survey in the North East region

   Lantra Sector Skills Agreement 2005 (based on telephone questionnaires).

   Lantra The Sector Skills Council Regional Fact Sheet

   Lantra Sector Skills Agreements: addressing the training needs of land-based
    industries. 2007

   Farming Facts & Figures (Wales, Carmarthenshire & Pembrokeshire) 2003 – 2006,
    Agricultural Statistics, Welsh Assembly Government.

5.2 Skills Audit Primary research undertaken
LBC felt that two primary survey studies were needed to undertake a current Skills Audit
of local agriworkers. The first involved a series of telephone or face to face interviews
with those who could be regarded as “sectoral interest representatives” in agriculture
locally. Their participation was sought to gain qualitative data on their views of current
and future skills requirements in agriculture. The second survey was aimed at those at the
“coalface” - ie those that farm or work in agriculture now as their primary occupation to
gain quantitative data on what they felt about their current and future skills levels. It was
felt that a dual, more rigorous approach would provide balanced and meaningful data.

5.2.1 Telephone & face to face interviews

In total 23 face to face or telephone interviews were conducted with what could be
termed local sectoral interest representatives. Those contacted to participate were chosen
because their views, interests, perspectives, and experience of agriculture were viewed as

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being sufficiently diverse to provide a comprehensive and balanced response. All were
reasonably high profile figures in South West Wales agriculture and were felt to be
knowledgeable of the local agrisector beyond their own farming interests.

Each candidate underwent a structured interview to a prescribed format. In summary,
topics discussed included:

   Identification of the key issues facing agriculture locally

   Commonly used skills and skills area shortfalls

   Comment on views of skill levels within three key areas (Practical skills – meaning
    machinery operation, stock management/husbandry and manual farm tasks)
    (Administration/IT skills – meaning Record keeping, finance and accounts, use of IT
    etc) and (People/management/relationship skills – meaning communication,
    negotiation, staff management, sales and marketing etc).

   Comment on skills training delivery and suggested areas of improvement.

A copy of the interview template used is included as Appendix 1.

Each candidate was also asked for their views on Skills Rings and Farming
diversification. These subjects are addressed in the Skills Rings report.

Each candidate had the choice of having their responses attributed or not. Most
volunteered to be quoted and where appropriate we have listed verbatim comments.

Each interview took approximately 45 minutes to complete and all interviewed
participated freely and fully where they felt they had feedback to impart.

5.2.2 Paper/email questionnaire

A copy of the paper/email questionnaire devised, piloted with several “tame” farmers”
and then dispatched to our target audience is listed in the appendix as Appendix 2.

The survey’s aim was to generate 100 completed questionnaires of the various segments
that typically make up South West Wales farming and agrisector businesses. It was
determined that this level of response would provide data that was representative of the
local agricultural marketplace. 66 completed questionnaires were finally returned out of
approximately 500 that were dispatched to contacts in Pembrokeshire and
Carmarthenshire to data lists provided by Coleg Sir Gar (Gelli Aur) and PLANED.

Advanced communication of the project to candidates was minimal and an additional 900
letters inviting participation were sent to local farmers and agriworkers. It needs to be
borne in mind that very few email addresses were held for the 900 contacts given,

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therefore, the mechanism of dispatching letters to candidates was costly, time consuming
and environmentally wasteful. It is suspected, however, that many of those written to do
have email addresses but it is not a favoured means of communication by many farmers.
LBC believes that younger farming generations may be more receptive to using such
media and in the future direct and focused communication via email or texting may
encourage better response rates. The advent of social networking sites such as Bebo,
Facebook and My Space may also be suitable media to consider to reach an affinity
orientated audience such as those in agriculture.Where email addresses were known
candidates also had the option of completing their questionnaires electronically and LBC
sent a number of questionnaires out via email as a Word attachment. However, we
received only four completed questionnaires via this approach. This possibly suggests a
low level of IT usage by those to whom contact was made.

The questionnaire was designed to be easy and reasonably quick to complete. Piloting of
it, before dispatch, indicated an average completion time of 25 minutes. Generally
speaking, most candidates completed their questionnaire as fully as they could although
the questionnaire’s design did not require candidates to complete all questions.

The questionnaire was aimed at the individual completing it and their assessment of their
personal skills levels within the areas of Practical, Administration/IT and People skills
sought. Candidates were also asked to comment on their experience and recollection of
training received. The questionnaire ended with questions assessing their present position
on diversification.

6   Results and findings

This section presents the results and findings from the secondary and primary analysis
undertaken. Where possible we have correlated responses between the research activities

The results presented follow the order of the interview template and paper/email

6.1 Skills Audit Secondary research results & findings
The secondary research reviewed was of limited usefulness because, for example, in the
case of the Lantra Futures Skills Wales Survey it focused on the picture in the whole of
Wales which does not necessarily reflect what is going on in Pembrokeshire and
Carmarthenshire. There was no way of isolating responses reflecting a south west Wales

None of the secondary research reviewed, shows the current situation in 2008, in these
two counties. In the last 12 months the agricultural sector has been affected by large
increases in energy prices, difficult weather conditions and fluctuating prices for milk
beef, sheep and arable product. This study will provide a representative view of the

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current situation from within the two counties. The Lantra Skills Agreements: addressing
the training needs of land-based industries in 2007 focused on land-based businesses that
had at least one employee. This means all farming businesses that are run by non
employed family members were outside the scope of the survey. Without this group the
picture of agricultural skills requirements is incomplete.

The Lantra Future Skills Wales Surveys also includes areas that are not applicable to this
study such as floristry, veterinary nursing, fisheries and amenity horticulture. Their
presence consequently creates a distortion when trying to make comparison to this study.

The Future Skills Wales Surveys do not include practical outdoor skills and focus instead
on broad skills such as numeric skills, communication skills and entrepreneurial skills.
Although relevant in part little significant comparisons could be made.

LBC’s work allowed respondents to analyse their own personal skills, and the
information given was largely based on their rating of themselves. The Lantra work
focused on sector skills. Lantra respondents, therefore tended to be talking about their
employees rather than themselves.

Generally, it is felt that the skill requirements’ studies reviewed were too far away from
the “coal face” and could not give an accurate or specific picture of agricultural skills
requirements in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire today. It was for these
aforementioned reasons that local primary research was devised and conducted to reflect
the local agricultural situation.

Finally, the Farming Facts & Figures (Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire) 2003-2006,
agricultural statistics from the Welsh Assembly Government gave useful background
information showing LBC the change in types of holdings in the two counties over the
time period. This helped LBC to put the data collected in context and assists with longer
term forecasting for skills requirements. For example, the statistics show that there is an
increase in horticultural and poultry enterprises in Carmarthenshire. If this trend
continues, it is expected that the demand for these specialist niche skills may increase in
the coming years.

6.2 Skills Audit Primary research findings
6.2.1 Telephone & Face to Face interviews

23 key sectoral interest representatives from the local agricultural scene were interviewed
by phone or face to face, to a structured format, to provide an overview of skills
requirements. (A copy of the interview template used is listed in Appendix 1.) Each
interview on average took 40 minutes. The 23 respondents come from a variety of
backgrounds including Government agencies such as The Environment Agency,
agricultural consultants, trainers (specialising within the agrisector) and land agents.
Some were also farming. It should be noted all our interviewees are over 35, with only 2

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under 40. However, the groups they represent cover a range of ages and sectors within
the agricultural communities of the two counties.

The interviewees were asked :

    Their views on the key challenges facing the agricultural sector.

    Their views on current skill sets of “Practical”, “Administrative/IT” and “People”

    Their views on current skills training and how to improve training delivery.

    Their views on diversification within farming.

Key Challenges Facing the Agricultural Sector

In response to the question about the key challenges facing the agricultural sector, the
majority of our respondents felt that achieving sustainable levels of profitability was the
main issue. The rising cost of energy which affects the price of feedstuffs and fertiliser as
well as fuel, came a close second as a major challenge facing the agricultural sector.
Roger Evans the Director of Carmarthen & Pumsaint Farmers asked the key question,
“How do you keep producing with the rising cost of production?”

Just over half of those asked, expressed concerns about the availability of quality labour.
Another key concern was people’s ability to adapt and take a wider view. Sian Bushell,
a succession counsellor and dairy farmer for over twenty-five years, commented
regarding “climate change – farmers need to adapt – see opportunities”.

Nearly a third of our respondents, felt that preserving the environment, reducing pollution
and waste management provided a challenge for the future. Better resources management
as suggested by Morris Davies, a dairy farmer, who thought that people need to make
more use of on farm resources such as manure to reduce their dependence on bought in
fertiliser, would help balance economic and environmental demands.

Views on the standard of current skills of those you represent.

We asked our sectoral interest representatives to comment on the level of “Practical”,
“Administrative/IT” and “People” skills that they perceive in the agricultural
communities that they either represent or work alongside.

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Standard of Practical skills

The majority of our respondents stated that Practical or “outside” skills were either good
or very good. In general, people felt that animal husbandry and machinery operating
skills were good.

Some of our respondents work for organisations connected to the agricultural sector,
others have direct experience of farming themselves. It is, therefore, significant that
these skills are highly regarded by this group.

However, one or two gaps were mentioned such as specialist machinery operation,
horticulture and arable knowledge. The latter skills gap of growing arable crops is likely
to be felt more acutely in the future as animal feed prices increases. It is suggested that a
growing number of farmers may be looking to grow more crops for their own livestock’s
consumption or to sell on. These are minority areas, however, it should be noted that the
agricultural statistics from the Welsh Assembly1 show that the number of horticultural
holdings in Carmarthenshire increased between 2003 and 2006 by 24%. As activity in
this area is increasing it may be that appropriate skills training to address this need should
be addressed. However, caution is advised as the 24% increase was made up by only 14
new horticultural holdings and mixed holdings also increased by a similar percentage.

Standard of Administrative/IT Skills

The picture here is very mixed. Some felt that Administrative/IT skills were below
average; others felt that form filling skills were adequate as farmers are required to fill
out forms to receive the Single Farm Payment. A small number commented on the
discrepancy between the generations. A local senior manager from a national farming
organisation, for instance, commented that the “older generation are not used to dealing
with it [paperwork]. “

Paul Morris, a farmer and part time lecturer based on the Pembrokeshire and
Carmarthenshire border, noted that larger farms were generally better at IT or
administrative skills than smaller farms. The reason for this is thought to be that they are
more practised at it and have a better “office infrastructure” in place (ie designated
trained staff etc). Perhaps, also larger farms may either outsource or employ, for example,
a farm secretary, therefore using specialist skills rather than a sole trader trying to cover
all skill areas on their own and be a “jack of all trades”.

Huw Davies a Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) Advisor and computer/IT trainer
remarked that “paperwork is more important. Profit is driven by this”.

Standard of People Skills

Overall, the view from our interviewees was that these skills are quite poor and need
improving. Again our respondents identified a split between the older and younger
generation, seeing the older generation as having poor skills with younger people
improving in this area.

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Two points of interest were raised: even though communicating with employees or
family members may be poor, farmers are often good negotiators when it comes to price.
There could be scope for building on these skills and showing how they can be
transferred to other situations. The other point is that discussion groups can improve
communication skills.

In summary our interviewees felt that generally:

   Practical skills were good to very good.

   Administrative/IT skills were poor to mixed

   Interpersonal skills were poor to mixed.

Views on widespread key skills shortfalls

Seven areas emerged from our study as key skill shortfall areas. These are:

1. Budgeting and financial management

2. Record keeping

3. Interpersonal skills

4. Farm business planning and management

5. Computer skills

6. Quality herdsmen (ie sufficient numbers adequately skilled)

7. Staff management.

Also of concern, though to a lesser extent were:

1. Innovation and openness to sharing information

2. Marketing

3. Practical skills training

4. Time Management.

In summary:

   Practical Skills – two areas show skill shortfalls. These are to do with “cow
    management” and practical skills training in a number of areas such as arable and
    specialist machinery operation.

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   Administrative/IT Skills – six areas show skill shortfalls. These are: budgeting and
    financial management, record keeping, farm business planning and management,
    computer skills, marketing and time management skills.

   People skills – three areas show skills shortfalls. These are: (1) interpersonal skills;
    (2) staff management and (3) innovation and openness to sharing information.

N.B. Herdsmen are in short supply according to some of our interviewees. There is a
shortage of key personnel rather than key skills. The shortage should be measured
against the true number of job opportunities available for herdsman in the two counties
before extensive time and money is spent increasing the numbers of herdsmen trained. It
may be that it is a small number of large dairy farms who have problems finding skilled
herdsmen. Therefore, you could look at mechanisms to encourage more students
undertaking general agricultural studies to choose to specialise in dairy to address this
skills gap. Maybe it is simply an issue of remuneration or a need for better “man/women”
management. If a herdsman’s job commanded a better wage, more people may be
attracted into the area. The infrastructure is already in place to provide this training via
the existing agricultural college. More research in the dairy sector is needed to fully
investigate this issue. Again we need to ask ourselves is the issue a lack of skilled
personnel or is it an inability on the part of some farmers, to retain their staff.

Views on the main reasons for skills shortfalls

Five main areas were identified:

1. Lack of time

2. Lack of money

3. Skills not being used, so maybe being lost or forgotten (such as growing arable crops)

4. Lack of ongoing training and development

5. The younger generation are farming in fewer numbers.

More than half our respondents said that lack of time was the major reason for the skills
gaps identified for Administrative/IT and People skills. There was a general feeling of
those running smaller farms being overstretched and struggling to manage all the day to
day jobs on their farms. Given this, finding time for training is not widely considered

The perception of “not enough time” indicates that developing skills is not a priority for
some. This is clearly related to the other major reason the majority of our respondents
gave for skills gaps, namely lack of money and the cost of training. With a feeling that
farms are struggling to stay viable, finding not only the money to pay for training but also
covering the cost of being off farm is an important reason given for skills gaps.

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One respondent also identified a general resistance in farmers to developing skills in new
areas. Geraint Jones of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority commented that it
is “the nature of farming. The psyche of west Wales farmers is independent not co-
operative”. This view is thought to be widely held and one of our lead interviewers
Walter Simon endorses this.

Many indicated that it is harder for the older generation to accept the need for skills that
were not required when they were younger, such as complying with assurance schemes.
Again we see the split between the younger generation who are seen as more responsive
to gaining skills and the older generation who do not show so much enthusiasm. The
maxim “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” comes to mind.

We would suggest that skills dying out through lack of use refers to skills such as hedge
laying and e.g. horticultural skills. As farms have specialised the broad base of skills
used on smaller mixed farms have been replaced with a set of specialised skills suitable
for a single enterprise unit e.g. livestock rearing. One example given was lowland
farming. As there has been more focus on upland farming, the skills of managing
lowland habitats have not been kept up. Another commented that traditional skills have
not been passed on. There are many reasons for this: increased mechanisation of
farming; and health and safety regulations in some cases preventing young people
picking up skills informally on farms.

The lack of young people coming into farming was also cited as a reason for skills gaps.
If you are nearing retirement with no successors there is no motivation to up skill. Roger
Evans the Director of Carmarthen & Pumsaint Farmers noted,

“fewer sons and daughters are coming home to farm. [there is a] brain drain.”

A fair proportion of the respondents said that improving skills was not a priority. Time
and cash restraints would certainly be a factor, but it may also be that farmers do not see
the direct benefits of developing Administrative/IT and people skills in the way that they
can see the benefits of improving Practical skills.

Interesting to note is that communication skills have been adversely affected by two
factors. Some farmers who do not join discussion groups etc are potentially more
isolated than when they started their working life. There are fewer farmers, working,
farms generally require fewer staff to run and there is perhaps less opportunities for
farmers to mix and network as would have happened naturally when farming and
processing took place more locally.

The market place for farmers has changed with buying, processing and distribution
becoming more centralised. In the case of many suppliers services and products may be
provided by fewer, larger companies who might not be part of the local community.
Farmers can easily drop out of the local scene as they work long hours and have to be
motivated to seek out other members of their community.

                                                                             Page 17 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

Views on addressing/improving skills shortfalls.

When asked how the skills shortfalls could be improved, five common suggestions
emerged from the interviews:

1. Encourage discussion groups, networking and knowledge sharing

2. Stress and make the cost benefit argument of improving skills levels

3. Provide suitable people management training

4. Focus on training for those who are receptive to learn i.e. the younger generations

5. Raise awareness of availability of suitable training and make it easy for the farmer to

The benefits of participating in discussion groups was mentioned by several of our
interviewees. Many who were part of discussion groups said they played a key role in
helping them develop their business through sharing knowledge and skills. As one
respondent said, “get farmers to bring in other farmers”. This environment of informal
networking, knowledge sharing and discussion was felt to be a good way to up skill
farmers. “Get like minded farmers into groups”. Participation in such activities may also
assist with tackling potential problems of low self esteem which was suspected to be
prevalent amongst a significant number of those farming.

In various different ways our interviewees referred to tackling the issue of showing the
benefit of training to farmers’ profit margin. If the training can have a positive effect on
the “bottom line” then farmers would be more receptive to learning about it and
implementing new ways of working.

For example, a training session on improving your skills as an employer needs to spell
out the effect good employee relations can have on productivity and, therefore, profit.
Relevant local, attributable or anonymous case studies can be used to emphasise these
points. When the course is promoted this link needs to be obvious, i.e. go on this course
and improve the bottom line in your business. One interviewee suggested that defining a
“blue print of a typical family farm to show how to be profitable and what skills were
needed” would be helpful.

More man-management training needs to be made available, was felt by a significant
number of our interviewees. Some people clearly felt that there is a lack of structured
management training available especially in courses undertaken by agricultural students
at college.

Some negative comments suggested that you cannot teach “People” skills. This suggests
that these skills are viewed differently to e.g. operating specialist machinery, i.e. practical
skills. The fact that People skills are identified as a skill gap, but not many specific
recommendations were made to address this area, suggests that this area may need more
research and indeed greater awareness raising may be necessary to show how poor on-

                                                                                Page 18 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

farm relations between owners and staff (family or outside) can have a direct negative
impact on farm profitability not to mention self-esteem and morale.

Many of our interviewees felt that it would be wise to focus on the younger generation
who are more receptive to skills training.

The nature of the unreceptive, over 50s that have been referred to quite often is that the
majority are unlikely to participate in studies such as this. We feel that PLANED should
consider this group separately, as there may be another way to engage this group.
Perhaps accepting that there is little motivation to improve agricultural skills and develop
if you are near retirement and have no successors is a good starting point. However, this
group could have a very important role to play in passing on skills to the next generation.
PLANED could investigate a way to “blend youth with experience” as one of our
interviewees commented. In this way, stronger community links could be developed, the
status of agriculture could be improved and those who have spent a lifetime being
custodians of this fertile corner of West Wales could begin to feel valued again by the
community they inhabit.

Another area identified by our interviewees was ensuring people are aware of relevant
training that is available. As there are so many different bodies offering training a central
information point would be useful. Numerous comments were made that different bodies
vied with each other to provide similar training events but having a multitude of options
actually diluted the beneficial purpose of running the training. It was suggested that a
more coordinated approach regarding topic, timing and geographic overage could be
discussed by these agri “stakeholder” organisations before launching a training initiative.

Views on how receptive those they represent are to developing new skills or
improving existing sills.

Almost all our interviewees saw some sectors in farming as very receptive. Those were:
the younger generation; highly skilled and those in discussion groups. One interviewee

“the younger farmers are very committed. The industry is willing to take on new skills”

A large minority thought the older generation were more resistant to developing new
skills. Some of our interviewees are involved in delivering new skills and ideas to
farmers and one of these felt that if the training was presented in the right way, farmers
would be receptive.

Views on local skills delivery by organisations such as Lantra, Farming Connect,
Coleg Sir Gar and others

General Comments

There is clearly a distinction between training that is required such as certificates showing
proficiency in operating machinery or basic food hygiene skills, and training that is
voluntary. Our interviewees gave a mixed picture. Some felt the level of training had

                                                                              Page 19 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

improved markedly over the last 3 to 4 years. There were some concerns though such as
one interviewee who said:

It is “important that there is not too much overlap. Each organisation should specialise.”

We asked our interviewees for their feedback on any organisations from whom they had
received training.

Coleg Sir Gar/Gelli Aur

Over a quarter of our interviewees commented on delivery of courses by Coleg Sir
Gar/Gelli Aur and all the comments were positive. The open days and practical tractor
driving courses were particularly praised.

Farming Connect

More of our interviewees had experience of Farming Connect. Some had worked as
Farming Connect facilitators or knew others who had. A more mixed picture was
presented. Demonstration days were praised though it was commented that they were
poorly attended. One criticism was that it was quite bureaucratic and raised expectations
that it would provide solutions for everything which clearly it could not deliver.


Mixed views about Lantra. Some felt their training should cover management and
business skills. Others praised the high standard of training. However, it is important to
note that whilst Lantra would have funded much training and facilitated it, Lantra itself
would probably not have actually delivered it. This is an important point to note as in
order to validate the effectiveness of training/development activities it is critical that the
“trainee” can accurately recall who delivered it. There are many prominent brands within
farming support and it is likely that this causes confusion.

Other training providers.

Many smaller training providers were mentioned and mostly were praised. These
included Pembrokeshire Machinery Ring, Morley Jones, YFC, Focus Farm, Food Centre
Wales, County Council, British Wool Marketing Board, ATB, Bloomfield Centre in
Narberth and other Colleges.

Views on the key factors that need to be in place to provide successful skills training.

Five main areas were identified.

1. In the promotion of training courses, the benefits and relevance to farm businesses
   needs to be clear

2. The timing of the courses needs to suit the farming calendar

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Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

3. Local venues were felt to be important to make training accessible

4. Skilled trainers who really know their subject and can communicate it to farmers at
   their level

5. Learning in a group of similarly skilled delegates can improve outcome.

As one interviewee summed it up

“Group learning, participatory learning is good for farmers. Timing right – time of year
and time of day. Understand the benefits e.g. have an open day to meet farmers who are
benefiting from these skills.“

Discussion groups were again mentioned as a way to provide both training and support
for farmers.

Here it is clear that there are two separate issues. In order to get farmers to attend
training courses they have to be well promoted and relevant in content. For farmers to
benefit from attending these courses they need to be designed and delivered with their
target audience in mind.

Views on Farm diversification

It is interesting to record that approximately one third of those our interviewees
represented were thought to be thinking about some form of farm diversification.

A former dairy farmer interviewed commented,

“Not so many now but 5 years ago there was more interest. Leisure tourism is saturated.
When milk prices go up people forget about it.”

Several people felt that farm diversifications had peaked and those that were going to
diversify already have.

Views on key reasons for diversification in farming.

The most common responses were:

   Increase income (all)

   Reduce dependency on agriculture by having another interest/activity/revenue stream

   Better use of resources, assets

   Succession issues – keep the next generation local

   Recognition that farm buildings are now very valuable if in right location.

                                                                             Page 21 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

   Right location e.g. main road, passing trade can give very good opportunity for a
    profitable farm diversification.

Views on main barriers to farm diversification

The most common responses were:

1. Cost of diversification vis-à-vis existing levels of debt

2. Farmers need to have a positive mindset and the enthusiasm to diversify

3. Farmers need to have the right idea and know how to go about it

4. Being able to afford the time away from the core agricultural business

5. Lack of vision, seeing the bigger picture, thinking outside the box.

6.2.2 Paper/email questionnaire

Segmentation data

Approximately 900 letters were sent out by LBC to farmers and agriworkers on data lists
provided by Gelli Aur and PLANED inviting participation in the study. Subsequently.
300 questionnaires were sent out to additional data lists supplied by PLANED and Coleg
Sir Gar. 66 completed questionnaires were returned.

Of the 66 respondents, 74% were male and 26% female. This is not necessarily a true
reflection of the proportion of input from each gender in the agricultural holdings in
Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Farming correspondence still generally addresses
the male in the household, and it is thought that most “patriarch’s were the recipients of
the mailings and may not have circulated the correspondence further to other family

77% of the recipients were in Pembrokeshire; 21% in Carmarthenshire. The larger
number in Pembrokeshire reflects the bias in the data lists supplied by the client.

82% of our recipients are married or co-habiting which is perhaps a reflection of the fact
that 85% of our recipients are over 40 years of age.

Only 13% of our recipients are under 40 years of age. Whether this reflects a low
number of young people going into agriculture, a low number of young farmers on the
original data lists or a small number of young farmers willing to take part in such surveys,
needs further investigation, as any training aimed at people in agriculture must surely
attract younger farmers? It would also be interesting to find out how many younger
farmers on family farms were asked whether they wanted to fill out the survey. LBC
suspects that most of the letters and questionnaires dispatched were sent to the farm
“patriarch” (as their’s was the name on the list) and the majority of whom did not pass
them on or discuss them with other family members, possibly because they did not

                                                                             Page 22 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

perceive the value in participating or it just meant “more administration and

Table 1: Age Group (all respondents)

Age Group          17-20   21-30   31-40     41-50      51-60   60+   Not Answered
No of Recipients     0       3       5        26         15      16         1

                   Age Group (All Recipients)
                            24%                 60+
                                                Not Answered

               38%                 5%      2%
                              8%           0% - 17-20

29 out of 66 i.e. 44% of our recipients lived in households with dependant children. As
24% of our respondents are over 60, and 72% are between 20 and 50, this suggests that
only around 60% of respondents of child bearing age, have dependants. Does this reflect
national falling birth rates or is this more pronounced in farming families? LBC is
uncertain whether this figure is high or low compared to demographic averages for the
farming sector elsewhere. It is suspected, however, that farming families of this
generation may be getting smaller, therefore, there may be fewer younger farmers coming
through to farm in the future.

Table 2: No of Dependants in Household (all respondents)

 No of Dependants in Household     No of Households
            None                          37
            One                            6
            Two                           17
            Three                          4
            Four                           2

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Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

                                 Number of Dependants per Household

                          40   37

   Number of Households



                          20                        17


                          5                                            2

                               None      One       Tw o      Three    Four

Nearly 60% of our respondents are running farms with family only employees. Only 2%
run them entirely without family employees. Those using either family only labour or
family plus other labour amount to 92%. (6% did not answer this question). This shows a
very high dependency on family labour. Given that the figures on dependants suggest
fewer smaller families, this situation would seem unsustainable in the longer term.

Table 3: Percentage of farms by employee type (all respondents)

 Employee Type                                            Number of Farms
 Family Only                                                       39
 Non Family Only                                                    1
 Mixed - Family & Non Family                                       22
 Not Answered                                                       4
 Total                                                             66

                                                                             Page 24 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

                 Percentage of Farms by Employees Type




   Family Only     Non Family Only   Mixed - Family & Non Family   Not Answ ered

In spite of concerns raised by some in the face to face interviews, our respondents’
answers showed only 2 out of 184 employees were non UK workers. This suggests that
farmers in our survey are not generally making up any labour shortfalls with foreign
workers, or that larger dairy or arable farmers, who tend to employ such labour did not
participate in the survey. If this figure is to be believed (as there may be an element of
informal foreign labour employment occurring which respondents may not want to
disclose) it would be interesting to investigate further whether this is through a lack of
awareness of availability of such labour or whether the labour shortfalls are more to do
with affordability of labour or ability to retain staff than it is to do with skills shortfalls.
Another related point could be that foreign workers tend to be drawn to seasonal
horticultural work and apart from the local potato harvest there is not much else locally.

43 out of 66 farms have no, one or two staff. This probably reflects the small size of
holdings or the degree to which they are mechanized. For example, South West Wales is
not populated by many large arable farms (ie 1,000 acres) or dairy units milking 400 +
cows, employing 3+ personnel.

Only two farms in our survey had more than 10 employees; so generally speaking,
locally, we have businesses with small numbers of staff. We can assume the respondent,
or another key agricultural worker, manages any labour, in addition to their practical and
administrative duties. That is, no trained personnel manager would be involved, although
some sub-contracting of this often overlooked function may be being contracted out to
specialist Human Resources providers.


Welsh Agricultural Statistics 2006 published by the Welsh Assembly Government give
the following statistics:

                                                                                   Page 25 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008
                                                               Pembrokeshire   Carmarthenshire    Wales
Farmers, partners, directors (including spouses):                  4,179            7,172          43,338
Salaried managers                                                     21               32             303
Farm workers:               Regular full - time:                     374              308           3,140
                            Regular part - time:                     283              517           3,434
                            Seasonal or casual workers               772              871           6,894
Total labour force (including farmers and their spouses)           5,629            8,900          57,109

Number of Holdings:
Total Holdings (number of holdings)                                3,499            6,256          36,968

Land Area:
Land Area (hectares)                                             124,088          181,973        1,448,683

Av. labour force / holding (staff incl. farmers and spouses)        1.61             1.42            1.54
Average land area per holding (hectares)                           35.46            29.09           39.19

These statistics appear to correlate quite closely with that of the respondents with a
Pembrokeshire average of 1.61 and Carmarthenshire average of 1.42 staff including
farmers and spouses per holding. Of this labour circa 75% in Pembrokeshire and 80% in
Carmarthenshire are farmers, partners or directors (including spouses) leaving a very low
average number of non family paid workers per farm. This trend is in line with that of
the Welsh national averages.

The average size of the respondents holdings was 220 acres (89 hectares). This is three
times larger than the Carmarthenshire average and dramatically higher (over double) than
that of Pembrokeshire and the national average.

More than a third of our respondents ran other non-agricultural enterprises on their farm.
Of the 32 farms involved in other enterprises, 11 were running tourism related businesses.
Given particularly Pembrokeshire’s attractions as a holiday destination and relatively
good climate this is not surprising. However, 14 of the farms were running businesses
other than tourism, food processing and premises development. The mix of activities
amongst this group, includes micro breweries, wood processing and making animal feeds.
Clearly innovation and willingness to try out new enterprises is present in 16% of our
respondents. It is suspected that some of this “diversification” can be accounted for by
siblings or sons and daughters doing other things but are still involved with the “family”
farm to varying degrees.

Table 4: Type of Non Agricultural Business Run (all respondents)

 Tourism                                                    11
 Food Processing                                             5
 Premises Development                                        2
 Other                                                      14

                                                                                            Page 26 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

       Non Agri Business Type (All Recipients)


                                     34%                 Food


Only 25% of those over 60, 39% of 41 to 60 year olds and half of our under 40s are
running non-agricultural businesses on their farm. This would suggest that there will be
increasing demand for general business management skills alongside core agricultural
skills as increasing numbers of holdings run businesses besides farming. This also
suggests that it is the younger generations that are more prone to diversification.

61% of our respondents have been on their farm for more than 20 years. This is
unsurprising given the high number of people over 50 who responded. More interesting
is that 24% of our respondents are first generation farmers. This group we may assume
has not benefited from experience and skills passed down from previous generations. So
we can extrapolate that their training needs would be greater, but also they may have
higher motivation to take advantage of training opportunities as agriculture was a positive
career choice rather than just following previous generations.

If we look at this more closely by age, we can see that the number of new entrants in
farming over the last two generations has declined steeply. Among our over 60s; 43%
were new entrants; 41 to 60 year olds, 37% were new entrants; and under 40s only 25%
were new entrants. This decline surely reflects not just a decline in farm incomes but also
the decline in the status of agriculture. If a fall in new entrants combines with a lack of
successors on farms then this would have a serious impact on farming in the two
counties. A point allied to this is the capitally intensive nature of farming. It is suspected
that many in farming have not invested heavily in new machinery, plant and buildings as
recent incomes have not allowed this. Therefore, a number of the borderline viable farms
may have ageing machinery and infrastructures which makes further investment in the
farm, to improve profitability, prohibitively expensive.

Table 5 below indicates that most time among our recipients is spent on beef and sheep
farming with dairy following next (at 23%) then arable. Due to the low numbers of
respondents to the questionnaire and the fact that some respondents were from mixed

                                                                               Page 27 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

farms LBC is uncertain whether this data is meaningful. However, and interestingly, just
over a fifth of the income of our respondents’ comes from the Single Farm Payment. It is
assumed that those farms involved with beef, sheep and dairy are mostly benefiting from
the Single Farm payment. The other activities account for 14 % of the time and 12% of
the income. It is also interesting to note that subsequent analysis of the paper
questionnaire yielded no comments towards the changes to the Single Farm Payment
scheme in three to four years time. (It is thought that the scheme will probably change
from a historic base to a flat rate per hectare). The implications of this locally are unclear.
Dependant on the rules and guideline coming into force there will be both winners and
losers. Undoubtedly the Single Farm Payment is currently essential for the financial
viability of many farms.

Table 5: Time split and income split (all respondents)

               Average Time Spent as %                         Average Income as %


                                     14%                        29%

                           23%                                                    17%

       Dairy        Beef Sheep   Arable    Other   Dairy   Beef Sheep    Arable    Other   Single Farm Payment

Only seven out of the 66 respondents have farms (rented or owned) of more than 400
acres. This is a factor particular to this area. This reflects the general fertility levels of
the land in the two counties. Smaller farms have been viable particularly in
Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire as yields of milk and beef and lamb are relatively
high compared with less fertile areas such as upland areas. It is important to note also that
lowland livestock farms tend to be smaller than arable farms

Between 2003 and 2006 the total number of holdings in Pembrokeshire and
Carmarthenshire, as detailed in the Farming Facts and Figures published by the
Agricultural Statistics office of the Welsh Assembly Government 2006, increased from
9,419 to 9,842. The change in number of different types of holdings is mixed and
different in the two counties. For example, specialist poultry has declined in
Pembrokeshire from 21 in 2003 to negligible in 2006, whereas horticultural holdings
have increased in Carmarthenshire from 58 in 2003 to 72 in 2006. Dairy has declined in
both counties, as have cattle and sheep holdings. Minor holdings have increased in both
areas but so have dormant holdings. So while core enterprises may be in decline,

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Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

alternative and specialist agricultural uses are on the increase3. In view of this new
training needs could be expected to arise.

On average, our farmers spend 66% of their time on practical production work and 18%
of their time on administration or office work. This leaves potentially 16% of their time
available for either working off farm or training. There are seasonal variations, for
instance, just over half of the respondents had no free time in the spring, which should be
taken into consideration when developing training.

The next section presents the feedback from each questionnaire respondent as to how
they rated their own skills.

Skills Audit

Our respondents were asked to rate their own skills in three sections: outside skills (ie
practical), inside skills (ie administration, IT, book-keeping etc) and people skills (ie
interpersonal, management etc).

Practical Skills

Please refer to the pie charts overleaf. The skills areas given were volunteered by the
questionnaire respondents and LBC has categorised them accordingly.

                                                                            Page 29 of 59
Table 6: Practical Skills A (all respondents)

                  A.I                                                      Animal Husbandry                                                Building and
                                       Animal Breeding                                                           Brewing
                  2%                                                                   5%                              2%                        6% 5%
                                               8%         24%                     5%              25%
                                         9%                                                                                                12%

                 98%                                     39%                                                       98%                                30%

           Calf Rearing 0-6                  Computing                     Crop Agronamy                   Crop Husbandry             Electrical/Electronic
                                                                                        6%                               9%
                                                                                 15%         9%                  12%                             3%
                                                                                              31%          9%

                                                   98%                           18%                             27%
                  98%                                                                                                                         97%

             Engineering/                  Environmental                     Equine Breeding                                            Fencing and Hedge
                                                                                                            Equine Husbandry
         workshop/ fabrication          Scheme Management                                                                                  Management
                                                                                             6%                          3%
                        8%                                6%                      17%          6%                 18%         12%                         11%
                  9%                                9%                                                                                               3%
                                                                                                  8%                                          5%6%
           23%                               18%                                                    5%                          8%
                                             6%                                                                                                                 43%
            14%                                                                        58%                         53%
                        28%                        27%

                                   Excellent             Good         OK         Poor             Not Applicable            Not Answered

                                                                                                                                                                Page 30 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

Table 6: Practical Skills A (all respondents) cont…

        Firewood Processing                                                                    Machinery
                                     Foot Trimming                 Forestry                                           On farm Processing
                2%                                                2%                                       8%                    2%
                                            2%                 12%   12%                                                               12%
                                                                                                      8%                   21%
                                                                                                                24%                      3%
                                                                            17%            18%

                                                             46%           11%
               98%                                                                                                          48%
                                          98%                                                         34%

         Poultry Husbandry                                                                                              Special Machinery
                                         Pneumatic           Renewable Energy               Sheep Dog Training
                 2%                         2%                       0%                                                                8%
                                                                          12%                          2%                        11%
                                             0%                23%

                                                                                17%                                     27%

                                          98%                              28%                        98%                     14%       12%

         Timber Processing         Tractor Operation                Wood

               2%                           5%    21%                2%


               98%                                41%

                              Excellent          Good   OK         Poor          Not Applicable             Not Answered

                                                                                      Page 31 of 59
As you can see in the above pie charts, animal husbandry stood out as a skill that 55 out
of 66 farmers rated as good or excellent. This concurs with our findings from the
telephone and face-to-face interviews. This is not surprising given the two counties are
predominantly livestock areas.

Crop husbandry on the other hand gave a much more mixed picture with 24 stating that
their skills were excellent or good but another 24 said they were only OK or poor. Again
when you take into account the fact that our respondents spend only 10% of their time on
average on arable then we can see that we perhaps have a small number of specialists
who are skilled in arable and many for whom these skills play only a small part in their
farming year.

Tractor operation also scored highly with 41 respondents saying their skills were
excellent or good. It should be noted though that 16 thought their tractor skills were only
adequate.. There may be some opportunities for skills training here although further
investigation is needed to determine which tractor functions require skills upgrades.
Effective use of a modern, well equipped tractor can make a massive difference on a farm
worker’s productivity.

Machinery maintenance had 44 respondents (67%) saying their skills were adequate,
good or excellent. Clearly you need well maintained machinery for a farm to function

Very few respondents had specialist or more traditional skills such as sheepdog training,
poultry husbandry and foot trimming. This reflects the lack of call for such specialist
skills in farming today. However, it also means, that with time, such traditional skills may
be lost altogether.

Habitats questions were interesting. 26 respondents answered excellent or good when
asked about their skills on environmental scheme management and 36 on hedging and
fencing management. It is interesting to note that both of these questions are about
management skills rather than practical skills. The high number of respondents in these
two categories is perhaps linked to subsidy schemes such as Tir Gofal as well as a
reflection of good contracting services available for e.g. hedge trimming. There were
also 18 and 21 respondents respectively who felt their skills were acceptable which
suggests there is room for improvement in this area; our telephone interviewees also
identified preserving the environment and dealing with waste management as key
challenges for the future.

Practical Skills that need improvement

As the bar chart below shows the key skill areas that most need improving that were
identified in our survey are:

    Crop husbandry and crop agronomy.

    Building and construction skills

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Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

      Renewable energy

      Animal breeding

      Specialist machinery

Table 7: Practical Skills B (all respondents)
                                       1       2              3          4+       TICKED   TOTAL
Animal Breeding                    3       4            3           6                       16
Animal Husbandry                           4            1           6                       11
Brewing                            1                                                        1
Building and Construction          5       3            2           9                       19
Calf rearing 0 - 6 weeks           5                                                        5
Carpentry                                                           1                       1
Computer Skills                                                     1                       1
Computing                          1                                                        1
Crop Agronamy                      7       5            3           3                       18
Crop Husbandry                     9       6            3           1                       19
Engineering/workshop/fabrication   1       2            6           2                       11
Environmental Scheme Management    4       4            2           4                       14
Equine Breeding                                         1           2                       3
Equine Husbandry                                        1           3                       4
Fencing and Hedge Management               2            5           6                       13
Forestry                           1       1                        7                       9
Machinery Maintenance              4       5            3           4                       16
Nutrition                          1                                                        1
On farm Processing                 4       1                        3                       8
Poultry Husbandry                                                   1                       1
Record Keeping                                                      1                       1
Renewable Energy                   5       7            1           6                       19
Sheep Dog Training                 1                                                        1
Special Machinery Operation        1       2            2           5                       10
Timber Processing                  1                                                        1
Tractor Operation                  1       2            3           5                       11

Although arable production only accounts for 10% of our respondents time, crop
husbandry was cited by 14% of our respondents as the skill they most wanted to improve
as shown in the bar chart above. Another 11% cited crop agronomy as the skill they most
wanted to improve. Taken together arable production was mentioned as a skill area to be
improved by 56% of our respondents.

This suggests farmers want to produce crops more efficiently or they want to develop
more arable production. It could be an indication that rising energy costs are being felt
particularly in this area as farmers have seen the cost of fertilizer and fuel rise rapidly,
therefore their returns on arable crops will have diminished. It may also be that
particularly dairy farmers, are interested in producing more crops to reduce their reliance
on increasingly expensive bought in feedstuffs. It is suggested that with wheat more than
doubling in price, arable skills, once used on mixed farms, have been lost with the rush to
specialize and now livestock farmers have realized they cannot afford to buy so want to
go back to growing their own. However, it is thought that arable (primarily cereals)
developments would be for own farm consumption.

It would be worth investigating which arable crops farmers are interested in developing.

Crop management was an area that few of our telephone respondents mentioned, perhaps
reflecting that this is an area that only takes up a limited amount of farmers’ time, but
more efficient crop production or indeed producing more forage crops could improve
farm profitability.

                                                                              Page 33 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

Despite a perception that record keeping is onerous for farmers, only one respondent saw
improving this area as a priority and they only marked it as a priority 4 (one being the
highest priority). This is at odds with the majority of our interviewees who felt that
record keeping was one of the areas of key skills shortfalls. Some of the interviewees
represent organizations that “police” certain aspects of agricultural practice e.g. The
Environment Agency. As such their views on record keeping are important. What does
this conflict suggest? Either there is much grumbling about record keeping that our
interviewees have interpreted as a skill deficit when in fact farmers may be perfectly
capable of filling out forms; they just do not like doing it. Or farmers are incorrect in
believing their record keeping is adequate. Perhaps additional light could be shed on this
topic from representatives within the NFU and FUW who are believed to be often
consulted on problems of administration.

One of our telephone interviewees may have hit the nail on the head when they suggested
that farmers need

“anger management with red tape.”

Inspecting authorities are by their nature going to spend time with the farms that are
failing to carry out required measures adequately. This then may then adversely affect
their view of farmers’ skills in this area.

29% of respondents said that they would like to improve their building and construction
skills but only 8% put this down as their highest priority. Again we can reflect that
farmers are often responsible for maintaining older buildings, which can be costly. It is
suggested that this is more of a desire to reduce the cost of paying for maintenance as
few, if any, farmers indicated that they wanted to sell their construction skills “off farm.”
farm? Our face-to-face interviewees did not comment on this.

The same percentage, 29%, said that they wanted to improve their skills in renewable
energy. Again only 8% cited it as their highest priority. Given rising energy costs, it is
fair to assume that alternative energy sources are becoming increasingly attractive as the
payback time on investment reduces.

Machinery maintenance and animal breeding, despite scoring well in current skill levels,
were each cited by 24% of our respondents as areas they would like to improve. It would
be fair to say this reflects the importance of these areas in running efficient farm
businesses. Animal breeding is a highly specialized area that can have a sizeable impact
on farm profitability. For instance, getting the right balance between high feed
conversion ratios in beef breeds with the market preference of buyers can add
significantly to your profit margin and making a poor choice conversely can damage

With machinery maintenance, obviously machinery malfunction can be costly both in
dairy units and in field work. We would comment that where skill levels are quite high,
there is probably good motivation to undertake continuous training and development.

                                                                              Page 34 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

Practical skills training did feature in our interviewees’ responses though not as high a
priority as many indoor skills. It is fair to say that both groups recognize the importance
of continuously developing core skills to maintain farm efficiency and profitability.

A lack of quality herdsmen was identified by a number of our face-to-face interviewees
yet this was not stressed by many of our paper questionnaire respondents. This would
appear to be a specific concern of larger dairy units rather than a general skills gap.

Skills gaps that farmers want to address.

Table 8: Practical Skills C (all respondents)
                                            1       2              3       4+          TICKED   TOTAL
Animal Breeding                         1                    1         1                         3
Animal Husbandry                                             1                                   1
Building and Construction               2       2            2         2                         8
Computer Skills                         1                                                        1
Crop Agronamy                           2       2                      2                         6
Crop Agronamy ( Facts & Basis)          1                                                        1
Crop Husbandry                          1       2            4                                   7
Electricily                                     1                                                1
Engineering/workshop/fabrication                1            2         1                         4
Environmental Scheme Management         4       2                      1           1             7
Equine Breeding                                                        2                         2
Equine Husbandry                        1                              1                         2
Fencing and Hedge Management                                 2         2                         4
Forestry                                1       1            1         3           1             6
Machinery Maintenance                   3       1            2         1                         7
Not Answered                                                                                     0
On farm Processing                      3       1            1         1                         6
Record Keeping                          1                                                        1
Renewable Energy                        6       1                      3           1             10
Sheep Dog Training                      1                                                        1
Special Machinery Operation             1       1                      3                         5
Special Machinery Operation (combine)           1                                                1
Squad Bike Service                              1                                                1
Tractor Operation                                                      1                         1
Wool Processing                         1                                                        1

15% of respondents said that they wanted to acquire skills in renewable energy although
only 9% saw that as a top priority. Similarly, just over 10% wanted to acquire skills in
environmental scheme management.

It is interesting that more than half of our respondents did not mark a skill as a number
one priority to acquire. Skills such as animal breeding, crop agronomy and special
machinery operation had an insignificant number of respondents marking them as a
number one priority to acquire.

This suggests a medium to low level of motivation to acquire new skills.

Skills that farmers would like to use outside their business.

Only a small minority responded to this question (17 of the 66 respondents) suggesting
that the majority do not feel they either have the skills, inclination, or perhaps it is just
that they do not have the time to offer skills outside their business.

Animal breeding, fencing and hedge management and tractor operation were the most
popular choices of the small number that responded to this question.

                                                                                Page 35 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

The chart below shows the breakdown of skills that respondents felt they could offer off

Table 9: Practical Skills D (all respondents)

                                               Practical D

                   Animal Breeding

                  Tractor Operation

   Fencing and Hedge Management

          Building and Construction

                 Animal Husbandry

Env ironmental Scheme Management

   Engineering/workshop/f abrication

       Special Machinery Operation

                 Renewable Energy

               On f arm Processing

                 Equine Husbandry

                   Equine Breeding

                    Crop Agronamy

            Machinery Maintenance


                   Crop Husbandry

                Costing Enterprises

                                       0   1      2          3   4          5           6

Summary of practical skills audit

Our results show a positive picture of farmers’ own assessment of outdoor skills. Good
skills exist already, there is a desire to improve core skills in key areas and there is some
interest in developing newer skills e.g. environmental schemes and renewable energy.

Audit of Administration/IT Skills.

The picture that emerged from our interviewees was one of mixed to poor skills in this

The response to our email/paper questionnaire, overall concurs with that view.

                                                                                Page 36 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

The skills that came out well in our survey were

    Manual bookkeeping (33 out of 66 rated these as good or excellent)
    Internet usage and emails (30 out of 66 rated these as good or excellent)
    Purchasing livestock (30 out of 66 rated these as good or excellent)
    Purchasing non livestock (29 out of 66 rated these as good or excellent)
    Compliance with assurance schemes (27 out of 66 rated these as good or excellent).

Table 10: Administration/IT Skills A – Rated Excellent or Good (all respondents)
                                    Indoor Skills
                                 Excellent or Good

Manual bookkeeping

  Internet usage and

Purchasing livestock

     Purchasing non

   Compliance with
 assurance schemes

                       0   5   10   15 20   25 30   35 40    45 50    55    60 65
                                        Number of Recipients

The skills that had the highest number rating them as poor were:

    Accessing grants (19 out of 66 rated these as poor)
    Computerised Accounts packages (19 out of 66 rated these as poor)
    Spreadsheets and databases (19 out of 66 rated these as poor).

Those skills that farmers scored ok or poor which, therefore, we assume they feel could
be improved were:

    Accessing grants (41 out off 66 rated these as ok or poor)

                                                                            Page 37 of 59
  Farm Business                       Farm Management                            Farm Produce                          Internet Usage &                   Manual Book Keeping
    Planning                             Programmes                               Processing                                E-mails
              8%                                   2%                                                                                   14%                               12%
      12%                                                                                   8%                                9%                                11%
   2%                                                                                                                                                         2%
                                                                                33%                                    12%                                  9%
                       31%                                                                         17%
                                                                                                    9%                12%                     32%                                  37%
Table 11: Administration/IT Skills A – (all respondents)                                                                                                    29%
   32%                                                                                                                   21%
                                              98%                                       33%

Market Research                          Marketing                                     Payroll                      Purchasing Livestock                    Purchasing non
                                                                                  Compliance with                     Computerised Accounts
        Accessing Grants                 Budgeting/Cashflow                                                                                                    livestock
                                                                                 Assurance Schemes                         Packages
              5%                                  6% 6%                                      6%                                    11%                                   6%
                  14% 15%                20%                                                     9%
                                                                                                8%                           12% 5%                               17%    2%
   23%         14%                               11%                              23%       11%                                12%
                                                      21%                                                                             17%
                                               6%                   26%                8%
           9%                                                                                       8%                 15%                                   5%
                                                                                      9%                                 18%                                2%                     37%
                                       11%                                                             31%
                                             21%                                                    15%                                       35%
  20%              23%                                                                                                                        20%
                            33%        11%                                                                                                                   33%
           29%                                                                          32%
                                                                                      40%                                   24%
             15%                                      30%
                                                    31%                                                                           28%                                   98%

      Farm and
  Research Business                      Farm Management
                                     Spreadsheets and                            Farm Produce
                                                                            Task Management/                             Internet Usage &
                                                                                                                      Website Creation/                     Manual Book Keeping
                                                                                                                                                            Word Processing
        Planning                            Programmes                            Processing                                  E-mails
   Innovation                           Databases                              Prioritising                           Making the most of
                       8%                                 2%                                                                              14%                           12%
             6%                                         8%                                        9%
                                                                                                   8%                              9%                              11% 14%
                                              9%                                                                                   2%                            2%8%
   24%      2%                                                                        33%
                       21%                                                                                                   12%                               9%
                              31%      14%                     23%                                        17%
                                                                                                        22%                                                  15%
                                                                                                             9%          12%                    32%                                  37%
  12%                                                                                                                                                         29%
            32%                                                                                                                                             18%
                                       21%              98%                                    33% 1%
      8%         29%                                    25%                                   12%                                 98%                               18%

        Market Research                            Marketing                                  Payroll                 Purchasing Livestock                    Purchasing non
                                   Excellent             Good              OK          Poor             Not Applicable                  Not Answered             livestock
                   5%                                         6%                                   6%                                     11%                                 6%
                            14%                    20%                                     23%       8%                            12%                              17%
                                                                                                             8%              15%                               5%
                                                                                                                                                              2%                      37%
                                                                                                             15%                                    35%
           20%               23%
                                              11%                                                                              24%                                33%
                                                              31%                           40%

           Research and                  Spreadsheets and                             Task Management/                   Website Creation/
                                                                                                                                                              Word Processing
            Innovation                      Databases                                    Prioritising                    Making the most of                                    Page 38 of 59
                       6%                                      8%                                       9%                                                                      14%
                                                        9%                                                                               2%                              8%
                                              14%                    23%                                      22%                                                 15%
  Farm Business             Farm Management                 Farm Produce                   Internet Usage &             Manual Book Keeping
    Planning                   Programmes                    Processing                         E-mails
                                     2%                                                                                                  12%
Skills12% 8% Report V2.0 22 August 2008
       Audit                                                           8%                         9%
                                                                                                            14%                11%
   2%                                                                                                                        2%
                                                           33%                             12%                             9%
                   31%                                                       17%
                                                                                 9%       12%                     32%                          37%
   32%                                                                                       21%
Table 11: Administration/IT Skills A – (all respondents) cont…

Market Research                Marketing                          Payroll               Purchasing Livestock               Purchasing non
           5%                           6%                             6%                                   11%                         6%
                 14%           20%                           23%         8%                      12%                             17%
                                                                                 8%        15%                              5%
                                                                                                                           2%                   37%
                                                                                 15%                              35%
  20%             23%
                             11%                                                                24%                         33%
                                        31%                      40%

  Research and             Spreadsheets and            Task Management/                   Website Creation/
                                                                                                                          Word Processing
   Innovation                 Databases                   Prioritising                    Making the most of
            6%                            8%                                9%                                                            14%
                                   9%                                                                   2%                         8%
                             14%                23%                               22%                                       15%
                             21%                                                 1%                                        18%
      8%     29%                          25%                          12%                            98%                          18%

                         Excellent         Good       OK          Poor            Not Applicable            Not Answered

The strong purchasing skills that our farmers highlighted could be used elsewhere and would be relevant to any business operation.
Our face to face interviewees did comment on strong negotiation skills in farmers. These are skills that could be developed and
transferred to other areas such as purchasing, man management and possibly some selling.

                                                                                         Page 39 of 59
Exactly half of our respondents rated their manual bookkeeping skills as high. It would
not be difficult to train those already familiar with book keeping principles, to run
computerized accounts packages and these may be skills that could be sold off farm.

Administration/IT skills that our respondents most wanted to improve.

The skills that were marked by most respondents are below: None of them were marked
by more than 50%:

    Accessing grants

    Farm Business Planning

    Budgeting cash flow management.

Less than a quarter of respondents indicated that the skills below needed improvement.

    Computerised accounts packages

    Marketing.

18 out of 66 farmers identified accessing grants as the skill they most wanted to improve
with ten giving this top priority. This is an area that our face-to-face interviewees did not
mention at all. The fact that farmers place emphasis on this area, reflects both a desire to
invest and a need for financial support. It could also be argued that the past grant system
has encouraged a financial dependency that could in turn have blunted some farmers
“commercial edge”.

Budgeting and cash flow management; and farm business planning came out as two of
the key skill shortfalls in our face to face interviews. Here just over a quarter of our
farmers have indicated a desire to improve in both these areas.

When we looked at this question by age, there is no difference. All age groups see
improving farm business planning and budgeting as either their top or second priority

                                                                              Page 40 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

Table 12: Administration/IT Skills B (all respondents)
                                           1       2              3       4+          TICKED   TOTAL
Accessing Grants                      10       2            1         5           1             18
Budgeting/Cashflow Management         5        7            3         2           1             17
Compliance with assurance schemes     1        4            4         4                         13
Computerised Accounts Packages        5        2            2         3                         12
Farm Business Planning                5        4            2         7           1             18
Farm Produce Processing               3                     1         2                         6
Internet Usage and Emails             5                     2         4                         11
Manual Bookkeeping                             3            1         3                         7
Market Research                       2        3            2         5                         12
Marketing                             2        4            3         4                         13
Not Answered                                                                                    0
Payroll                               1        2            1         4                         8
Purchasing Livestock                  2        2            1         3                         8
Purchasing non livestock                                    3         4                         7
Research and Innovation               2        3            3         6                         14
Spreadsheets and Databases            4        1            3         3                         11
Task Management/Prioritising          2        1            2         3                         8
Website Creation/Making the most of                                   1                         1
Word Processing                       1        2            1         3                         7

Complying with assurance schemes which involves record keeping skills, did not score
highly here. Our face-to-face interviewees identified record keeping as a key skill
shortfall area.

When rating their own skills 48 out of 66 of our respondents felt they were ok, good or
excellent at complying with assurance schemes; only 13 out of 66 marked this as a skill
area that needs improving.

In conclusion there is a mixed picture out there. The majority of our respondents are
dealing with assurance schemes well or adequately. Their views, however, do appear to
conflict with our interviewees.

Which Administration/IT skills would you like to have?

The chart below shows the skill areas that the respondents do not have but would like to

Table 13: Administration/IT Skills C (all respondents)
                                           1       2              3       4+          TICKED   TOTAL
Accessing Grants                      4                     1         1                          6
Budgeting/Cashflow Management         2        3            1         1                          7
Compliance with assurance schemes              1                      3                          4
Computerised Accounts Packages                 1                      4                          5
Farm Business Planning                3        1            1                                    5
Farm Produce Processing               3        1                      2                          6
Internet Usage and Emails             2                     1         2                          5
Manual Bookkeeping                                                    2                          2
Market Research                       1                     2         2                          5
Marketing                             1        1            1         3                          6
Not Answered                                                                                     0
Payroll                               4        1                      1                          6
Purchasing Livestock                                                  2                          2
Purchasing non livestock                                              2                          2
Research and Innovation               1                     2         1           1              4
Spreadsheets and Databases            1                     2         2                          5
Task Management/Prioritising                   1            2         1                          4
Word Processing                       1                               2                          3

                                                                               Page 41 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

The highest number of respondents rated budgeting and cash flow management as a skill
gap. The good news is that only seven respondents felt they had no skill in this area.

Computer skills present a mixed picture. 44 out of 66 of our respondents believe they
have ok, good or excellent internet usage and email skills. This is a high proportion. 11
out of 66 marked this skill as one they would like to improve. This suggests that the
farming community recognize the importance of internet use in agriculture today.

When you look at these results by age there is an unexpected twist. Only 10% of our 41
to 60 years olds marked their internet skills as poor but 14% want to improve them. In
the older generation where you might expect a higher proportion of respondents to have
poor skills; only 18% rated this skill as poor. However 12% wanted to improve this area.
Of our younger respondents, 50% rated this area as poor and 37% wanted to improve this
area. This seems rather a high number given that you would expect younger people to be
more familiar with IT. Our considered response to this feedback is that the younger
generation, possibly, have stronger IT abilities and recognize much more what benefits
the correct application of IT can provide. Therefore, although proficient in what they do
now they may be more demanding of themselves to realize fuller IT potential. The
converse of this is that the older generation may consider use of email, surfing the WWW
and basic use of Excel and Word as being sufficient IT skills. This point requires further

Which skills would you like to use outside the business?

It should be noted that 80% of those questioned did not give a response to this section. It
could be surmised, therefore, that using skills outside the core business is not appealing to
many. This conflicts with feedback from the majority of those that were interviewed who
indicated that they felt those they represented would be receptive to using their skills “off
their farm” when time allowed. LBC suspects that a number did not answer this question
because of possibly low levels of self esteem, whereby, candidates felt that they would
not be paid a “fair” wage to apply their skills elsewhere and/or they were uncertain of
how the mechanics of working elsewhere would operate. This point is developed further
in the Skills Ring report. Of the few who did respond, marketing skills were the most
popular for using outside the business.

Among the 41 to 60 age group there are clearly some willing and able to use farm
business planning and marketing outside their business. As many of these skills have
been identified by farmers as needing improvement, it would seem obvious that people
within the sector could be trained to deliver these skills or could be contracted to help
other farming businesses in these areas.

                                                                              Page 42 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

Table 14: Administration/IT Skills D (41-60 Age Group)

                                                  Aministrative/IT Skills D
                      Market Research
    Compliance w ith assurance schemes
           Task Management/Prioritising
               Research and Innovation
               Purchasing non livestock
              Internet Usage and Emails
                Farm Business Planning
      Computerised Accounts Packages
       Budgeting/Cashflow Management
                      Word Processing
          Spreadsheets and Databases
                       Record Keeping
                  Purchasing Livestock
                   Manual Bookkeeping
                        Farm Accounts
                        Computer Skills

                                          0   1      2                3       4          5

Audit of People Skills

The results show a complex picture regarding people skills. Our telephone interviewees
felt it was mixed to poor, yet only two areas out of seven key skill shortfalls were people
skills: interpersonal skills and staff management. Some of the comments from our
telephone interviewees suggested they found farmers’ interpersonal skills were poor or
quite poor.

The farmers in our survey disagree. The areas that farmers rated highly were

   Listening/openness to ideas (54 out of 66 said ok, good or excellent)

   Managing family/business relations (51 out of 66 said ok, good or excellent)

   Teamworking (49 out of 66 said ok, good or excellent)

   Maintaining buyer relationships (48 out of 66 said ok, good or excellent)

   Contractor management (47 out of 66 said ok, good or excellent)

   Dealing with the general public (46 out of 66 said ok, good or excellent)

                                                                                  Page 43 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

Table 15: People Skills A – Rated Excellent, Good or OK (all respondents)

                                               People Skills
                                           Excellent, Good or OK
    Listening/openness to

 Managing family/business

            Teamw orking

        Maintaining buyer

  Contractor management

  Dealing w ith the general

                              0   5   10   15   20     25   30   35   40   45   50   55   60   65
                                                     Number of Recipients

Adaptability and openness of farmers to new ideas was one of our face-to-face
interviewees concerns. Yet among our respondents to the paper questionnaire the skill of
listening and openness to ideas is rated quite highly. As with some other responses,
caution should be applied here, as we can assume, by responding to this survey, these
farmers are amongst those more open to ideas than those who did not return the survey.
Our face-to-face interviewers commented that farmers generally have good negotiating
skills. The farmers who responded to our email/paper questionnaire concur with that
view. Maintaining buyer relationships and managing contractors have come out well.
Both require negotiation skills.
Dealing with family members is interesting by age group. Those marking their skills the
highest (good or excellent) were the older generation, over 60s. In the under 40s only
37% marked this area as good or excellent. This is a tricky area where lack of awareness
of difficulties can be a problem in itself. Half our younger generation felt this area was
poor or just okay and marked it as an area where they would like to improve whereas
none of our older generation thought this area was poor nor did any of them want to
improve it. These results conflict suggesting that further discussion may be needed.
In the age group 41 – 60 the picture is mixed with slightly more people feeling they were
good or excellent at managing family/business relations but a substantial number marked
their skills as poor or ok. Notably only 17% thought their skills could be improved.

                                                                                           Page 44 of 59
             14%     15%                                                                                                                        17%
                                                6%                    26%              8%
         9%                                                                                                               18%
                                                                                      9%                    31%
                          33%                                                                                                                   20%
        29%                                                                            32%
                                                           30%                                                                  28%                                             98%

Table 16: Farm Business A – (Under 40 Management
          People Skills         Farm Age Group)                                        Farm Produce                        Internet Usage &                      Manual Book Keeping
              Planning                           Programmes                             Processing                              E-mails
                8%                                    2%                         Employee Management                 Listening/Openess to
                                                                                                                                      14%                                             12%
           12% Contractor                       Dealing with the                             8%                                   9%                        Local Community
                                                                                                                          Other Ideas
          2% Management                         General Public                        33%
                          2%                                                                                                12%
                                                                                                                              2%                                     9%
                               2%                                                           2% 2%           17%                                                           3%
       15%                     31%                          3%                                         2%                        3%                                        2%2%
                           4% 3% 2%                              6%                               5%     2%                                                          5%
                                                                      3%                                                              8%
                                                                                                            9%           12%                      32%                                       37%
          32%                                                                                                                  21%
                                                      98%                                        33%

                   87%                               88%                               87%                               87%                                   88%

       Market Research                              Marketing                                Payroll                   Purchasing Livestock                           Purchasing non
            Maintaining Buyer                   Managing Family/                 Networking within your                Promoting your                   Promoting your Sector
              Relationships                    Business 6%
                                                        Relations                       Sector 6%                                     11%
                                                                                                                      Business to Others                     to Others      6%
                    14%                          20% 2%                                 23%     2%8%                            12%                                   17%
          23%        2%                                  3%                                  2%                                  3% 8%                               3%
                                 3%                          21%
                                                            2%                                    6%
                                                                                                                                                                           5% 2%
                                      2%                         4%                                                                        2%
                           6%                                          2%                                                                                              5%
                                                                                                              8%           15%
                                                                                                                                                                      2%                     37%
                                                                                                              15%                                     35%
        20%                23%
                                               11%                                                                              24%                                       33%
                                                             31%                       87%40%                            87%
                    87%                              87%                                                                                                       87%

         Research and                        Spreadsheets and                        Task Management/                     Website Creation/
             School Visits                       Seasonal Labour                       Teamworking                                                                   Word Processing
          Innovation                            Databases
                                                  Management                            Prioritising
                                                                                                                         Making the most
                                                                                                                              Others     of
                                                                                                  5%        3%                        3%   2%
                                                            5% 2%
                    6%                                       8%                                         9% 2%                              5%                                          14%
                     2%                                9%                                                                                  2%2%                                  8%
          24%                                                     6%
                                               14%                         23%                                 22%                                                        15%
                     98%                       21% 87%                                                      1%                 88%                                   18%
             8%      29%                                     25%                                    12%                               98%                                       18%

                                           Excellent             Good            OK          Poor                Not Applicable              Not Answered
                                                                            Under 40 Age Group size: 8 respondents

                                                                                                                                                                                  Page 45 of 59
          14%    15%                                                                                                                  17%
                                           6%                 26%               8%
     9%                                                                                                             18%
                                                                               9%                     31%
              33%                                                                                                                      20%
Skills 29% Report V2.0 22 August 2008
                                                                                                                         28%                                     98%

      17: People Skills A – (UnderManagementGroup)
Table Farm Business          Farm 41-60 Age                                     Farm Produce                        Internet Usage &                Manual Book Keeping
          Planning                         Programmes                            Processing                              E-mails
                 8%                                 2%
                                               Dealing with General                                                             14%                              12%
                                                                                                                                                      Local Community
      Contrator Management
       12%                                                                           Management
                                                                            Employee8%                              Listening/Openess to
                                                                                                                          9%                                11%
      2%                                              Public                                                             Other Ideas                    Involvement
                                                                               33%                                   12%                                  9%
                       3%31%                                  11%                                     17%                                                          8%
    15%                                                                                         6%                                    11%
                              23%                                                                                                                                          15%
                                                                                                      18%          12%                      32%                                  37%
                                                48%                 24%                                                                                 29%
           48%                                                                      47%                               47%                   27%
       32%                                                                                                            21%
                                                 98%                                      33%
                                                                   8%                                 17%
                                                              6%                                12%                                  12%                              8%
                       5%                                3%                                                                                                    5%
    Market Research                            Marketing                               Payroll                   Purchasing Livestock
                                                                                                                           3%                             Purchasing non
         Maintaing Buyer                        Managing Family/               Networking within your
                                                                                        6%                            Promoting your               Promoting your Sector
           5%                                        6%                                                                         11%                              6%
                                               Business Relations                         8%                             12%
                                                                                                                     Business to Others                    Others
                                                                                                                                                        to 17%
      23% Relationships
               14%                             20%                               23% Sector
                        6%                             6% 21%                                     9%                             5%                              6%
                                                                                                      8%             15%               17%                 5%          13%
                                                                                                                                                          2%                       37%
                                26%       11%                      29%                                 18%
                                                                                                       15%                                   35%
                                               46%                                                                   3%
           47%         23%                                                                                                                          51%
     20%                                                                         52%
                                          11%                                                                                                              33%          14%
                                                                                     40%                    8%
                                                                                                                         24%               17%
                15%                                    31%
                         17%                                 14%                                      8%                        5% 9%                            5% 11%
                                                       2%3%                                       5%
      Research and                      Spreadsheets and                    Task Management/                       Website Creation/
                                                                                                                                                       Word Processing
       Innovation Labour
         Seasonal                          Databases
                                             Teamworking                       Prioritising
                                                                              Training/Teaching                    Making the most of
                Management                                                                 Others
                 6%                                     8%                                    9%                                                                             14%
                        5%                        9%                                             6%                              2%                               8%
      24%                                                 8%
                        21%                                                                           12%
                                          14%                  23%                                     22%                                                15%
           49%                                 49%                               50%                                                                                               27%
     12%                        14%
                                                                                                       21%                                             18%
                                0%        21%                                                         1%
          8%                                                  15%                           12%
                  29%                                   25%                                                                    98%                               18%
                                                                                                 8% 3%
                                                        3% 2%

                                      Excellent          Good             OK          Poor              Not Applicable                Not Answered
                                                                    41 – 60 Age Group Size: 41 respondents

                                                                                                             Page 46 of 59
          14%      15%                                                                      11%                                                 17%
                                              6%                26%                     8%
      9%                                                                                                                      18%
                                                                                      9%                  31%
              33%                                                                                                                               20%
Skills 29% Report V2.0 22 August 2008                                                   32%
                                                     30%                                                                           28%                                  98%

      18: People Skills A – (Over 60 Age Group)
Table Farm Business          Farm Management                                           Farm Produce                           Internet Usage &             Manual Book Keeping
           Planning                           Programmes                                Processing                                 E-mails
                  Contractor                         2%                                                                                   14%                                  12%
           12%                                    Dealing with the                         Employee
                                                                                             8%                             Listening/Openess to
                                                                                                                                     9%                  Local Community
                 Management                                                                                                                                     2%
       2%                                         General Public                      33% Management                             other ideas
    15%                    9%
                         31% 5%                                                                     5% 17%                           2%                            2%6%
                                                                13%                                   8%                                  14%                           3%
                                                                                                                             12%                                         5%
                              3%                                       5% 2%                              9%
                                                                                                          6%                                    5% 32%                     5%        37%
                                                                           2%                                                                                  29%
       32%                                                                                                                       21%
                                                   98%                                        33%
                 80%                                                                                                           79%
                                                    78%                                     81%                                                            79%

    Market Research                              Marketing                                    Payroll                   Purchasing Livestock                   Purchasing non
          Maintaining Buyer                         Managing family/                  Networking within your
                                                                                               6%                               Promoting your                          Sector
                                                                                                                                                         Promoting your 6%
           5%                                          6%                                                                                 11%
               14%                               20%                                    23% Sector8%                               12%
                                                                                                                               Business to Others                17%
                                                                                                                                                              to Others
      23%                                          business relations
                         3%                                21%
                           8% 3%      2%                        3%                                                                         3%                              2%
                                      2%                             12%                                8%
                                                                                                    3% 9%                      15%           5%3%                 5% 3%6%
                                                                                                                                                5%               2%       5%             37%
                                            11%                            5%                              5%     2%
                                                                                2%                         15%                                     35%
                                                                                                                               3%                                             6%
     20%                23%
                                            11%                                                                                    24%                            33%
                                                          31%                               40%
                                                     78%                                     81%                                   78%                       78%

      Research and                         Spreadsheets and                          Task Management/                        Website Creation/
                                                                                                                                                             Word Processing
       Innovation Labour
          Seasonal                            Databases
                                                 Teamworking                            Prioritising
                                                                                        Training/Teaching                    Making the most of
                 Management                                                                        Others
                  6%                                      8%                                                                                                                       14%
                                                    9%                                                3%                                   2%                            8%
       24%               2%                                 2%
                           12%                                9%                                           8%
                         21%                                                                                 5%    3%
                                             14%                   8%
                                                                 23%                                        22%                                                  15%
                                 6%                                             2%
                                                                                      47%                              3%
                                            21%                                                           1%                                                   18%
                 80%                                79%                                       78%         9%
          8%       29%                                    25%                                       12%                                  98%                            18%

                                      Excellent            Good                  OK          Poor           Not Applicable                      Not Answered
                                                                                 Over 60 Age Group Size: 16

                                                                                                                 Page 47 of 59
It is important to note that the majority of those surveyed did not answer these questions –
hence the large white segments. This may be because they were getting “questionnaire
fatigue” (these questions appeared towards the end of the questionnaire). Nevertheless some
of the responses are revealing. Some of the feedback, such as dealing with staff and family
relationships, were thought to be lacking by some of our face-to-face interviewees. Also
isolation and lack of communication skills generally came through as a problem according to
this group. The high scores we found should be set against the fact that it is unlikely that the
isolated, poor communicators that our face-to-face interviewees identified, would have taken
part in a survey such as this.

Our face-to-face interviewees felt that man management was a key skill gap for farmers in
Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Only one out of 66 of our respondents felt that their
employee management was poor. As with family relations, you cannot solve a problem that
is not identified as such by the people concerned. Also family dynamics are far different from
a traditional employer employee relationship. The fact that the younger respondents appeared
more negative on this subject possibly indicates deep rooted cultural, historic and familial
issues. As in other areas such as food hygiene you can raise the standard through a carrot
and stick approach. Recognising high levels of interpersonal skills where they are present
through industry specific awards or other means will encourage the industry to raise its game.

When you look at the skill areas that farmers rated as poor and okay, community
involvement was marked by nearly 40% of our respondents. This shows an awareness that
this area is lacking. Compare this with interpersonal relations where it may be that farmers
are not objective about their skill levels. Other results show there is a willingness to network
and promote the sector which would in itself engage farmers more with their communities.

Skills that our respondents would like to improve.

Overall again, skills needing improvement were not given many responses. Only just over
half of our respondents marked a number one priority skill area. We need to consider
whether those who did not respond are satisfied with their skill levels, feel that farm
profitability is not about individual skills or that they have no time, confidence or money to
take up skills development.

The results show that a minority of our respondents are keen to develop more links in the
community and promote their sector.

Highest scoring skill areas were:

   Promoting your business to others

   Promoting your sector to others

   Maintaining buyer relationships

   Networking within your sector

                                                                                 Page 48 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

    Teaching/training.

Table 19: People Skills B (all respondents)
                                         1       2              3       4+      TICKED   TOTAL
Contractor Management                        3            3         1                     7
Dealing with the general public      3                    1         3                     7
Employee Management                  4                    3         1                     8
Listening/Openness to other ideas    1       3            3         3                     10
Local community involvement          1       1            1         5                     8
Maintaining Buyer Relationships      5       1            4         3                     13
Managing family/business relations   3       2            2         4                     11
Networking within your sector        3       4            2         4                     13
Not Answered                                                                              0
Promoting your business to others    5       7            2         1                     15
Promoting your sector to others      2       4            6         2                     14
Seasonal Labour Management                   1            2         1                     4
Teamworking                          1       3            2         3                     9
Training/Teaching others             6       1            3         2                     12

What skill gaps would you like to address?

The following were identified as areas that our respondents would like to develop:

    Promoting your business to others

    Promoting your sector to others

    Maintaining buyer relationships

    Teaching/training.

Similar skills were highlighted in this section. This suggests a recognition of the need to
improve the status of farming both inside and outside the sector.

Maintaining buyer relationships is an area that has been highlighted in this section. Not
surprisingly our face-to-face interviewees did not dwell on this area as many would not be
involved with this relationship. Good buyer relationships are crucial for farmers which our
survey shows they recognize. With rising costs and falling farm gate prices, developing good
relationships with large buyers is vital for the sustainability of farm businesses selling to
wholesalers, processors or the multiples. Farmers often do not have a say in setting prices
but good relationships will give farmers a better chance of maintaining contracts and dealing
successfully with any issues that may arise.

Which skills do you have that you would like to use off farm?

As with the other section, 53 did not respond to this section. Of those who did respond, there
was interest in:

    Teaching/training

    Promoting your sector to others

    Promoting your business to others

                                                                             Page 49 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

   Local community involvement

   Listening/openness to other ideas.

There were no skills and experience in man management in the agricultural sector that are
available to be used outside the core farm business. As this area has been identified by our
face-to-face interviewees as a key skill gap and is not rated as very important by our
paper/email questionnaire respondents, this is an area PLANED may consider for further
research and discussion with those in farming.

Barriers to Training

The most often mentioned barrier to training was lack of time. It was mentioned as a barrier
for 18 respondents. Other principal issues were not knowing what courses were on offer and
not having courses held locally.

7   Recommendations

This section lists the recommendations proposed as a result of the Skills Audit findings.

7.1 Skills Audit Recommendations
The recommendations offered are broken down into short, medium and longer terms and
accord to the survey structure of practical, Administrative/IT and People skills.

7.2 Sector Skills Requirements
7.2.1 Sector skills requirements for the short term (0 – 2 years)

The surveys show that awareness of the importance of practical skills is much better than for
Administration/IT or People skills. Skills requirements are identified as being:

Practical Skills

   Crop husbandry and crop agronomy

   Renewable energy

Administration/IT Skills

   Accessing grants

   Cash flow management and budgeting

   Farm business management

                                                                             Page 50 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

   Computerised accounts packages

   Marketing

   IT training - has generally been well received and needs to continue to be made available
    especially for older people, although there may be greater resistance to receiving training
    unless it is set in an appropriate “customer friendly” way.

Farming has been through a difficult time with low to non-existent margins on some farms.
Better farm cash flow management and budgeting skills would help farmers cope with
fluctuating prices and help them address issues such as whether they need to expand,
diversify or find off farm income. This is probably best provided through farm business
consultants though for farms with poor margins this must be made affordable.

People Skills

   Awareness raising of importance of man-management skills

   Maintaining buyer relationships

   Promoting farming in the wider community.

   Networking

   Teaching/training

The general lack of awareness of the importance of communication skills among family and
staff suggest that courses would not at this stage attract many participants. Therefore, an
awareness raising exercise would be of more benefit.

Work to raise the profile of farming needs to start in schools. There are some in farming who
are keen to pass their skills on to others but need help to become teachers/trainers/mentors.

7.2.2 Sector skills requirements for the medium term (2-5 years)

Practical skills will always require ongoing development as new techniques, breeds,
equipment and crops are developed. We may see more developments in response to climate
change and a volatile global economy. Changing consumer behaviour towards greater
awareness of food provenance and choice, for example, may also affect practical
growing/breeding skills. Better Administrative/IT and People skills will be demanded by the
farmers who spend more and more time in non farm or farm diversification enterprises.

Practical Skills

   Crop husbandry

   Animal breeding

                                                                             Page 51 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

   Renewable energy

   Resource management

   Environmental scheme management.

   Building and construction.

With energy prices set to continue to rise, farmers may need help to make their holdings
operate along more sustainable lines, balancing inputs and outputs to reduce their
vulnerability to increased costs. It is believed that many farmers are already pursuing
sustainable activities (be they organic or not) and local, leading exponents of these principles
may have much to offer others in this area.

Discussion groups would be an ideal place to exchange knowledge about renewable energy
and to organise visits to farms that have put new technology in place.

Administration/IT Skills

   Cash flow management and budgeting

   Farm business management

   Computerised accounts packages

   Marketing.

In the medium term farm business management skills gaps may need to be addressed with
some form of ongoing professional development or mentoring for farmers. Discussion
groups could be expanded to include smaller specialist farms, hobby farms and others.
Consideration should be given to establishing online case studies or exercises that farmers
can access to help in these areas. Consideration could also be given to the design and
implementation of podcasts and webcasts as these are low cost “tuition” delivery mediums
which can be accessed at any time, if set up correctly. However, it may well be that this
promotional medium may only be accessed by younger generations as they may be more
familiar with this medium.

People Skills

   Awareness raising of importance of man-management skills (employee and family)

   Maintaining buyer relationships

   Promoting farming in the wider community

   Networking

   Teaching/training skills

                                                                             Page 52 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

   Discussion groups - that encompass as many land owners as possible could help skills
    and knowledge exchange. By encouraging those in land based industries to network with
    each other there could be a good exchange of knowledge, skills and work opportunities.

There are networks of women in farming that are quite active such as Women in Rural
Enterprise (WIRE). This may be a good place to advertise training, awareness raising events
in communication skills as women in farming households may be quicker to see the benefits
of these skills.

There is scope for the older generation to pass on more traditional skills such as hedge laying,
coppice management, horticultural skills to hobby farmers and other small holders who may
not have these skills. This in turn will help the wider community understand and value
agricultural skills more.

7.2.3 Sector skills requirements for the long term (5 years +)

With falling numbers of new entrants and anecdotal evidence to suggest that the numbers of
sons and daughters of farming families entering agriculture is falling, indicates that there is a
longer term need to raise the profile of farming and encourage people into the industry.
However, this will be a nigh on impossible task if farm incomes stay below a generally
acceptable level. This depends on many factors, outside of the control of farmers.

Practical Skills

   Ongoing crop husbandry skills training

   Renewable energy

   Resource management

   Environmental management skills.

   Relevant up to date training in Practical skills that helps farmers take advantage of new
    crops and technologies will be essential to help maintain a healthy agricultural sector in
    Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

Administration/IT Skills

   Cash flow management and budgeting

   Farm business management (especially forecasting and planning)

   Computerised accounts packages

   IT skills for improved business efficiency.

As there is a general openness to learning computer skills we would recommend that farmers
are encouraged to harness the potential of the internet to help their business become more
                                                                              Page 53 of 59
      Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008


      People Skills

             Man management on general agricultural courses

             Managing family farms (and succession planning)

             Maintaining buyer relationships

             Promoting farming in the wider community.

             Teaching/training skills.

      If awareness is raised about the importance of good people skills then there should be more
      willingness to develop skills in this area.

      Developing ambassadors for farming who can raise awareness about farming and its
      importance to the area will help to raise the profile of farming and get more public support
      for farmers. This is necessary to help persuade political leaders of its importance as well.

7.3             Key skills shortfalls and suggestions to improve skills
      Key Skill Shortfalls

      The following key skill shortfalls have been identified by both groups that we questioned:

              Cash flow management and budgeting

              Farm business management

              Computer skills

              Marketing

              Practical skills

      Our interviewees felt that improvement was needed in the areas below, though the
      respondents to our email/paper questionnaire were not so concerned with these areas.

              Interpersonal Skills

              Staff management.

      The respondents to our email/paper questionnaire felt there was room for improvement in the
      areas below though they were not highlighted by our interviewees:

                                                                                  Page 54 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

        Renewable energy

        Animal breeding

        Crop husbandry

        Building & Construction

        Specialist machinery

        Promoting sector to others

        Networking

        Maintaining buyer relationships

        Promoting business to others

        Teaching/training.

Suggestions to improve skills

        Greater establishment and development of local discussion groups.

        Farmers to promote training to other like minded farmers who are receptive to

Any training constructed and developed needs to be:

       Specific to South West Wales needs (and is broadcast as such)

       Delivered locally in appropriate settings

       Timed appropriately to take account of farming activities

       Promoted so that benefits to the farm business are clear

       Delivered by skilled trainers who can empathise with the delegates

       Subsidised or free

       Good quality farm business consultants need to be made available to farmers

       Train the trainer sessions need to take account of core findings

       Farm visits of model or pilot projects to suggest best practice or alternative ways.

                                                                                  Page 55 of 59
      Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

7.4         Under utilised skills and suggestions to increase usage
      The response to our survey did not reveal a great pool of under utilised skills in the
      agricultural sector. This may be to do with the general levels of self-esteem within farming
      at the moment and how the medium to “sell” such skills elsewhere would work.

      However, there are some under used skills which may be utilised beyond the “home farm”.
      Possible examples include:-

         Animal breeding

         Tractor operation

         Fence & Hedge management

         Farm business management

         Marketing

         Teaching/training

         Promoting your sector to others

         Promoting your business to others

         Local community involvement

         Listening/openness to other ideas.

      We must emphasise that the above skills were only offered by very few of our respondents.
      In order to utilise their skills existing training providers could look at train the trainer
      courses. They need to publicise these through existing farm networks such as discussion
      groups, farming organisations such as Farming Union of Wales, Farmers Union, Organic
      Centre Wales, Women In Rural Enterprise (WIRE) and so on.

      PLANED may want to address the issue that this raises. Either farmers do not have the time
      to consider using their skills off farm or their level of self esteem is such that they do not
      believe their skills are worth anything. LBC categorically affirms that those involved in
      farming have many skills and competencies that are transferable to other business sectors.

      Giving farmers an opportunity to see how their skills might be better rewarded off farm or
      through altering the farm business could lead to opportunities for rural businesses such as
      other farmers, hobby farmers, equine centres, land based tourist attractions and amenity land
      owners to benefit from key practical or land business skills.

      Recruiting those who are willing to take their skills off farm may help PLANED and other
      organisations reach some of the farms that are struggling with poor incomes and crisis

                                                                                  Page 56 of 59
      Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008


7.5         Skills audit next steps
      Conducting primary research such as LBC has done may be regarded as the easy part of the
      overall task which is to identify current skills strengths and shortfalls and suggest ways in
      which such skills can be better used or developed. The last section outlines those areas where
      opportunities for skills development exist. The guidelines below offer LBC’s thoughts on
      how PLANED and its many stakeholder partners may need to work together to effectively
      address local farming skills.

      1. Firstly, the data collected in this study and the Skills Ring work needs disseminating and
         discussing to those organisations responsible or interested in developing the agri sector in
         South West Wales. This includes bodies such as Lantra, Farming Connect, Farmers
         Union, National Parks, the local unitary authorities and colleges specialising in
         agriculture. A discussion is required to agree that the findings are representative and have
         been borne out by other studies. Once there is agreement on the validity of such findings
         collective and complimentary actions require devising and implementing. It is likely that
         each body will have their own initiatives and particular remits. However, to avoid
         duplication of effort, conflict of purpose and reduce confusion amongst the target
         audience it is suggested that greater consultation on the delivery of such work is
         broadcast. The current Article 6 West Wales Steering group may be an appropriate
         forum for this discussion.

      2. Data Management. Clear, accurate and meaningful data needs to be captured and
         regularly updated on each farming contact. It is thought that much physical information
         on farm characteristics etc exists for traceability and environmental purposes. However,
         to address skills needs, deficiencies and opportunities it is suggested that appropriate data
         is kept on the Practical, Administrative/IT and People skills that farmers currently have.
         LBC is aware that Farming Connect are currently looking at pan Wales skills audit work
         and their template/methodology may be an appropriate mechanism to use. Caution is
         needed from the perspective of Data Protection and proper authority needs to be in place
         to manage such data. Once a critical mass of such data is captured, that is thought to be
         truly representative of local farming needs, then farming/agricultural bodies may be more
         inclined to devise programs that are demanded, pursued, and result in improvements at
         the “farming” coalface.

      3. Concentrate training/development effort to those who are most receptive to it. This
         report suggests that those that have participated may be more open and receptive to new
         ideas and learning. However, it is considered that these are the minority amongst the
         farming population and there may be many who have got there “head in the sand” and are
         intent on leaving it there. Too much time and effort could be expended to change such
         mindsets, therefore, it is suggested to engage those farmers that are prepared to change
         and recognise that they need help. This is likely to be those that network actively, attend
         farm and demonstration visits, involve themselves in various agricultural societies etc.
         Such personnel, who appreciate the benefits of participating in these activities should
         then be encouraged to “recruit” other farmers/agriworkers to the same activities. The
         report suggests that it is the younger farmers/agriworkers (ie < 45 years old) who are the
                                                                                   Page 57 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

   most receptive target audience. Word of mouth is an incredibly strong force in SW Wales
   and it needs to be capitalised upon.

4. Formally review farming training/development needs once every two years in South west
   Wales. The pace of change re food and commodity prices, fuel, environmental concerns,
   threat of disease etc is increasing, therefore, planning horizons for launching new
   initiatives need to be shorter and dynamic to respond to market changes to ensure that
   what is ultimately delivered is needed and still relevant. Where possible pan Wales or UK
   initiatives need to be tempered to match local requirements, ie to reflect South West
   Wales particular operating circumstances. In order for this to happen there needs to be
   much more local focus to determine how immediate area needs differ from those in other
   locations. Fundamental to being able to identify emerging local issues and opportunities
   and respond to them quickly and effectively is delegation of responsibility to local
   providers who are closer to the “coalface”. LBC’s experience is that empowerment of pan
   UK and Wales policies to match local needs is critical to effective support in all business

5. Recognise and use the skills possessed amongst the older farming generation. Although
   the report is mildly critical of the fact that the older farmer is less receptive to change and
   is difficult to “get to change”, they are thought very knowledgeable in many areas
   particularly animal husbandry, land management and applying traditional skills such as
   hedge laying, foot trimming etc. It is suggested whether some form of “mentoring”
   scheme could be created where such “old hands” may be effectively and appropriately
   used to impart their knowledge before these skills are lost. Possible media may be via
   local Young Farmers Clubs activities, informal master classes, or even a Skills Ring type
   database where it is known that “Mr xx of xx is an expert on xx”. The subject of Skills
   databases within Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire is addressed in another report
   published by LBC entitled “Skills Rings Report”.

6. Link all training and development activities to “bottom line” benefits. It is considered that
   whilst many in farming work long hours per week and are prepared to do so “on the
   farm”, (and rarely price their labour on an hourly basis), the majority are not prepared to
   take time off the farm to see and learn new ideas. It is suggested, that when training or
   development is promoted that there is an explicit “bottom line” indicator as to what the
   benefits of attending this event may be. If the benefits cannot be quantified why should
   anyone attend? It is suspected that much training is given not because it is demanded but
   because there is funding to supply it. Although much previous training has been provided
   free some of it may have discouraged future participation because it added no value. A
   real issue to face is the general expectation that training or development should be
   provided at either no or low charge. This continued approach should be discouraged as
   the farmer has nothing to lose by not turning up. Charging a fee helps ensure that those
   attending an event have the conviction to act on the information imparted.

7. The new Farming Connect contract is to be launched in September 2009 and whilst
   different to its predecessor it still provides much assistance to the Welsh faming
   communities – especially in the area of Whole farm plans, business innovation and
   diversification. However, the new scheme is fundamentally different to the old scheme in
   that the registration process to get onto the new scheme has been centralised to a call
                                                                          Page 58 of 59
Skills Audit Report V2.0 22 August 2008

    centre function in Ceredigion, replacing the previously local registration process. This
    means that there is potentially a greater burden (and opportunity) for local organisations
    to “keep close” to local farmers to provide valued assistance and services. However, to
    maximise the help that can be given to farmers local, providers need to establish and
    maintain good relations with the likes of Farming Connect to help ensure seamless and
    beneficial service delivery.


Telephone/face to face interview template

Paper/email questionnaire

STEEPLE analysis for skills audit

 From Farming Facts and Figures published by the Agricultural Statistics office of the Welsh
Assembly Government 2006
 From Farming Facts and Figures published by the Agricultural Statistics office of the Welsh
Assembly Government 2006
 All data taken from Farming Facts and Figures published by the Agricultural Statistics office
of the Welsh Assembly Government 2006

                                                                            Page 59 of 59

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