Hartpury College will use its share of funding from the Department of Education’s (DfE) Strategic Development Fund (SDF) to help bridge the digital skills gap in agriculture and to further develop local industry links within agri-tech.
Just over £2.6million of funding has been awarded to the Gloucestershire Federation of Colleges (consisting of Hartpury, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, Gloucestershire College and Cirencester College). The fund is part of the government’s “Skills Accelerator” programme, that aims to tackle skills gaps through regional collaborations between colleges and training providers.
This project will specifically cover the county-wide provision of green skills training to help with sustainability and decarbonisation, part of the government’s wider net zero target. Hartpury will use the funding to bolster its contribution to education and innovation in the agri-tech sector, following the launch of its Digital Innovation Farm. A new Agri-tech Digital Studio will be created - a dedicated student-employee-industry facing space where future technologies in agriculture will be explored using simulation.
A Digital Skills Framework, that will see a collective collaboration with partner colleges, will help to provide a national benchmark for education and training providers. Employers will be consulted and engaged on their training needs to inform the pathway. This will help to inform an overall curriculum and employability refresh.
An enhanced industry immersive experience allowing staff to spend time in the agricultural industry and bring back their findings to the classrooms will also further deepen the practical knowledge and insights
Claire Whitworth, Vice-Principal at Hartpury College, “The funding secured through the DfE’s Strategic Development Fund will help all the partners to help young people and those currently in industry develop the skills required as we all look ahead to decarbonisation and net zero. For industry, the project will ensure they have access to highly skilled workers to drive improved productivity and support growth.
“We look forward to playing our part in supporting Gloucestershire to become a leader in agri-tech innovation through our curriculum refresh, Digital Skills Framework, and Digital Studio. We share our partners’ aspirations to establish a Green Skills Stakeholder group as a vehicle to steer the curriculum for the county.
“The project reflects our wider commitment to ensuring our facilities and courses are equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need for a rapidly changing industry, boosting employability and opportunities.”
Significant investment has been made over the last ten years to ensure the 360-hectare campus provides the perfect learning environment. A new £9.8 million catering and learning facility was recently unveiled for the new academic year. 98% of students at the Ofsted Outstanding college reported being satisfied with teaching, and 97% of students felt stimulated and challenged in their lessons (Hartpury College 2022).