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    Posted 11 June 2003

    THE PARLIAMENTARY Private Secretary to the Minister of Rural Affairs this week urged teenagers interested in land-based careers to reshape the future of the countryside.

    MP for the Wrekin Peter Bradley, who is also founder chairman of the Rural MP’s Group, made the comments during his opening address to the Higher Education Choices Conference at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, on Monday.

    He told the students present, aged 16 – 18 and attending from across the UK and Ireland to find out more about courses and careers in the land-based industries, that he felt they were joining the industry at the right time; a time of fresh optimism.

    Mr Bradley said: “People like yourselves, who will take the future forward, are getting into the industry at very much the right time. I think the rural entrepreneurs of tomorrow will face challenges but they will have tremendous opportunities too.

    “Skills and education are now a lifelong proposition – they are not just concentrated into three or four years and keeping up with change is the best way of getting ahead in business.

    “Much of what you learn will be invaluable, will be wise and will perhaps be based on generations of experience but it’s important to test those assumptions, to question them and their thinking. That’s a skill, which, if you have not learnt it already, it is important that you do learn.

    “To challenge orthodoxy, to think laterally, to be bold and confident and to take risks are important parts of entrepreneurial activity.”

    In conclusion, Mr Bradley said: “My message to you is to go out and get the skills you need; go out and do the best you can. Make it happen, take the risks, be bold, be brave and be confident. Go out and shape the countryside for your benefit and for the benefit of those of us who all depend upon the countryside.”

    Higher Education Choices is a development of the National Sixth Form Conference, which ran successfully at Harper Adams University College for 14 years. The name change was made to reflect changes in the education industry and the event bought together almost 250 students, all considering their next step towards a university course and a career.

    Universities and Colleges from across the UK attended to offer information on subjects as diverse as Agriculture, Business Management, Engineering, IT, Leisure and Tourism and Veterinary Nursing. The event also received the support of industry bodies such as the National Farmers Union (NFU), the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) and Connexions.

    Students attended seminars and practical sessions to sample the various course on offer, picked up hints and tips on issues such as financing their studies and stayed overnight in Harper Adams’ Halls of Residence for a true taste of the student experience.

    Higher Education Choices is an annual event. Further information on HEC 2004 can be obtained from Sally Bishop, HEC Co-ordinator, on +44 (0) 1952 815 265 or E-mail:


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