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Poultry scholarship scheme launched

Posted 11 May 2010

Watch the video on our YouTube channel.

L-R Dr David Llewellyn, Jackie Newman and Clay Burrows at the launch

Harper Adams University College this week demonstrated its commitment to providing skilled graduates for the poultry sector by launching a new scholarships scheme, with industry support.

The University College’s Principal, Dr David Llewellyn, addressed a packed audience at the Pig and Poultry Fair. He said: “It was great to see so many people turn up and take an interest in what we are proposing.

“What we’re trying to do is get the industry to join with Harper Adams in an initiative to encourage new people to enter the poultry sector. It doesn’t matter whether you work in the meat, egg or supply side, what we want to do is get people enthused about this sector, the importance of it to the UK economy, the way in which we have to serve future consumer needs and the challenges ahead in terms of meeting food security requirements.

“This is an industry that needs to work hard to attract young talent and we can help by working in conjunction with every company that signs up to this new scheme to find the right people for their needs.”

Dr Llewellyn explained that sponsors will pay each scholar’s tuition fees for the second year of their higher education course, then employ them during their placement year – a compulsory element of all Harper Adams courses. “If the chemistry between the scholar and the company is right, the sponsor will pay final year fees and provide a job for the scholar when they graduate,” he added.

“We’d like to thank all of the sponsors who have signed up so far – Aviagen, Bernard Matthews, Cargill, Cobb, Cranberry Foods, Kelly Bronze, PD Hook and Vion – and particularly Vencomatic, which has given practical assistance for the launch. But it does not stop there – we still want and need more companies to come on board, and to work with us to grow and strengthen the new generation of poultry experts.”

Cranberry Foods Agricultural Director Clay Burrows, who outlined his own path into the sector at the launch, said: “There is a shortage of good, talented people coming into the sector, so I think this is a great opportunity. When I started, 25 years ago, there weren’t these sorts of scholarships available and I found it difficult after finishing college. It’s a very fast moving industry. It is hard work but very rewarding.

Jackie Newman, Human Resources Manager at PD Hook, explained at the launch how she has worked with Harper Adams to develop the scholarships scheme and already selected and supported four scholars. Two of them, Tom Woolman and Becki Lindley, who have been on placement with the company since last summer, were at the fair.

Becki said: “I’ve really enjoyed the diversity on this placement, because you get to see the different areas. For example, at the moment I’m really enjoying working on the broiler farms and monitoring the chicks at different sites. I’m doing a mini project and I have to report back to the company and it gives me a chance to see different farms, meet lots of different people and develop my understanding while I learn. I enjoy the precision side because it gives you something to think about. You can have a progressive career – they are always embracing new technologies so it keeps it exciting”

Tom said: “The poultry industry is streets ahead of anything else and so you really get struck in and get a sense of how professional it is and it gives you job satisfaction. Poultry attracted me because of its professionalism and great management. The farmers have a large number of birds, which makes management critical. You notice that small changes can have a huge effect and that’s quite rewarding to be a part of.”

Aled Griffiths, founder of Oaklands Farm Eggs, which already employs Harper Adams placement students and graduates, said: “I have realised, now that we’re running a fairly big business, how important it is that we get new people into the industry.

“It’s a great industry but we are lacking in management and in other skills. Now Harper Adams has introduced this scholarship, I think it’s a great opportunity for the industry. We need to try to help people to get established and therefore we are going to do everything we can from both the egg industry and poultry industry – it’s a combined effort, so we can bring young people into Harper Adams and give them the opportunities that we once had.”

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