1. Background context- the current agriculture, environmental and animal care landscape

1. Economic Impact

This is a broad ranging route with occupations that range from primary production, environmental stewardship to service provision, for both commercial and non-commercial customers. The total economic benefits of this route are difficult to aggregate due to the diversity of the of occupations and their associated businesses.

We have therefore chosen to highlight a selection of economic contributions in this section to demonstrate the importance of the route.

DEFRA’s UK farming estimates for 2020, released in May 2021, outline that in 2020 the total Income from Farming was estimated to be £4,119 million, a decrease of £768 million (-15.7%) from 2019. DEFRA describe the total Income from Farming as the total profit from all UK farming businesses within a calendar year – measuring the return to all entrepreneurs for their management, inputs, labour and capital invested. DEFRA’s figures also highlight that in 2020, agriculture’s contribution to the UK economy was £9,435 million, a fall of £676 million (-6.7%) compared with 2019. Decreases between 2019 and 2020 were, in part, due to a fall in the value of crop output, following unfavourable weather and a fall in the value of output from inseparable non-agricultural activities (diversified activities) due to Covid-19 lockdowns. Livestock outputs though, were more favourable in 2020 – valued at £15,072 million, an increase of £490 million or 3.4% compared with 2019. All four main livestock groups (cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry) had value increase in 2020 of 5% and 8% on 2019.

As well as agriculture, the pet market is sizeable within the UK. The PDSA’s 2021 animal wellbeing report estimates (as pets) there to be 9.6 million dogs 10.7 million cats and 900,000 rabbits and – supporting the need for occupational standards such as the animal care and welfare assistant (level 2) and veterinary nurse (leve3). Pets at Home estimated the UK pet care market is estimated at £6.2 billion, including £4.1 billion in retail (food and accessories) and £2.1 billion in veterinary care. In their 2021 report, Pets at Home note that COVID-19 has changed how we work and spend our leisure time, estimating that the number of pets increased by 8% in 12 months. In addition, advances in digital communication and COVID-19 restrictions meant there was estimated to be 90,000 remote veterinary consultations annually according to the Vet Connection.

In addition, the British Equestrian Trade Association’s National Equestrian Survey 2019 highlighted that the equestrian sector’s economic was £4.7 billion of consumer spending, with an estimated horse population in Britain of 847,000 – creating a demand for occupational standards such as equine groom (level 2), equine groom (level 3), farrier (level 3) and animal trainer (level 4).

In terms of the horticulture aspect of the route, the 2019 report for the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group outlines that the ornamental horticulture sector is estimated to have 32,000 businesses that support over 300,000 workers. Their report highlights that Oxford Economics calculates that the sector contributes close to £12bn GDP and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimate 92% of the sector comprises of micro and small businesses. However, the report notes that:

the sector is facing a critical skills challenge (skills gaps and shortages), manifesting in an ageing workforce, difficulties in filling skilled vacancies and challenges in recruiting apprentices and a general shortage of labour”.

The sector would greatly benefit from increasing its number of apprentices, and there are a range of suitable occupational standards approved for delivery in the route. For example, the horticulture or landscape operative (level 2), landscape or horticulture supervisor (level 3) and agriculture or horticulture professional adviser (level 6).

Land-based engineering also plays an important role within the economy, and makes use of technological developments including telemetry, GPS and drones, for example. The purchase of farm equipment to support the growing and harvesting of crops, managing land and to feed farm animals is significant, AEA note that in 2020 this was estimated to be between £1.8-1.9 billion. The equipment includes agricultural tractors, telehandlers, sprayers and utility vehicles, amongst others. AEA note further contributions to UK GDP for agricultural machinery exports, citing HMRC estimates worth £1.63 billion in 2020.

There are opportunities to progress in this sub-sector, for example from the land based engineer (level 2) to the land based service engineering technician (level 3), with potential occupational standards and higher technical and professional levels on the occupational map. Those working in the sector may also gain professional recognition through, for example, the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgreE). IAgreE describe land-based engineering as representing a wide range of science, technology and engineering that includes: soil and water management, power and machinery, forestry, horticulture, amenity, environment, precision farming, animal production and land use.

2. The market

The route review was conducted during the approach to exiting the European Union (EU). Whilst Brexit may create domestic opportunities for some businesses, we know that it will also bring fresh challenges for a range of sectors. It is difficult to evaluate the full impact at this point in time. We will continue to monitor and consider the impacts of Brexit with our route panel employers and more widely to do what we can to reflect emerging needs in technical education.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has highlighted how new technologies and digitalisation are helping to transform agriculture. In 2017, the first entirely machine-operated crop was sown, tended to and harvested – referred to as ‘smart-farming’ or ‘e-agriculture’. OECD note that digital technologies including devices, data analytics and artificial intelligence are changing both agriculture and the food system, fine-tuning both the inputs and labour required and the outputs.

Workforce, training and technologies

  1. A significant proportion of employers in this route are micro and SME employers.

Aging workforce and skills gaps. There is an aging workforce relative to the physical nature of many occupations in the route. There are also a number of skills gaps, which includes veterinarians have been identified in the UK’s Shortage Occupation List since 2019 following a joint submission to the Migration Advisory Committee by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and British Veterinary Association (BVA). The veterinary workforce is under-capacity and is of high importance in areas such as public health, food safety, disease surveillance and control, education, research, clinical practice and animal welfare.

  1. Health and Safety at work. There are higher than average levels of lone working, which require particular knowledge, skills and behaviours. Lone working may present additional challenges for safeguarding all workers and in attracting new entrants to occupations. Members of the route panel noted that the agriculture industry may benefit from making use of well-established health and safety practices used in other industries such as rail and construction to encourage safe working. For example, promoting days since the last accident and what safety equipment should be used on site before entering the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive’s website provides a detailed breakdown of fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain 2020/2021, with 41 people killed including 25 that were self-employed. Of the 41, 13 involved accidents with a vehicle and 11 with cows and bulls.
  2. Seasonality of some occupations. For some sub-sectors within the route, there is often a seasonal workforce – including a significant proportion being migrant workers not employed on permanent contracts, utilising the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS). Whilst both COVID-19 travel restrictions and Brexit have had an impact on the number of EU workers coming to the UK in 2020 and 2021, it is possible to obtain seasonal workers visas to do farm work for up to 6 months.

Where there are those working throughout the year as employees, and therefore opportunities for apprentices to work too, seasonality may be a key consideration in their occupation. This then necessitates that training and assessments are given careful consideration to seasonality in the design and delivery of technical education. For example, in land management different activities will take place in particular seasons.

  1. Additional qualifications. A number of occupations within the route require completion of additional qualifications to ensure safe practices in the day-to-day training. For example, in operating machinery, safely handling pesticides or to have basic first aid training in case of an accident in the workplace.
  2. Emergent technologies. Occupations in the route are increasingly making use of emergent technologies to support activities, e.g., GPS within farming and an increased need for biosecurity. The knowledge and skills required in many jobs is therefore evolving, and technical education can help meet these new requirements.

Geographic challenges

Given the rural nature of a number of occupations, there may be geographical barriers to access technical education programmes for potential learners. This is apparent in both of the route’s pathways (agriculture, land management and production, and animal care and management). For example, the early starts on farms may limit access to public transport in rural areas, and many living in cities may not have opportunities close to where they live to access employers and may be discouraged from entering the sector if it means relocating significant distances from home. This may be a more significant issue for younger learners, who are unlikely to have the financial means to move home to access the education programmes that they would like to, and social mobility may be a factor. In addition, many people are living in towns and cities may not have had direct personal experience of farming and rural activities.

Contributions to green agenda

There are a range of cross-government initiatives to promote a greener environment. This includes a £50 million Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme to encourage farmers and landowners to plant more trees and help to tackle climate change and also the England Trees Action plan 2021-2024 that has an ambition to plant 30,000 hectares of trees per year until the end of this Parliament. Initiatives such as these need a skilled workforce to help ensure that targets are met, and there are several occupational standards approved for delivery or in development in this route that enable professional progression. For example, the level 2 forest operative and arborist, level 4 arboriculturist, and level 6 professional arboriculturist and professional forester (degree) occupational standards. In addition, those working within several occupations within the route are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. For example, flooding within agriculture.

There are several occupations within the route that contribute to sustainability and environmental matters as the primary purpose of job roles, and more that include these aspects as part of the job role. For example, there is the environmental practitioner (degree) (level 6), with associated job roles seeking to promote sustainable growth in a manner that is practical whilst responsible, using fewer natural resources, producing less waste, and without compromising the quality of the built and natural environment.

Business practices and materials may also help to manage and improve biodiversity. For example, the crop technician (level 3) could consider if there are sufficient hedgerows, trees and field boundaries left untrimmed, fallow or managed such that habitats for nesting birds and other species can be at least maintained and, preferably, encouraged.

The Institute’s sustainability framework sets out the key themes for all employers to consider, no matter what sector they are in. This is a helpful guide, to ensure employers can consider how every apprenticeship can contribute to climate change goals.

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Institute have identified the need for integrating ‘sustainability’ into the development of new and updated apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

This is to support the UK in achieving its commitment to national and international sustainability goals. Sustainable development achieves value for money, generating benefits not only to the organisation but also to society while minimising damage to the environment now and in the future.

3. Perceptions of the agriculture, environmental and animal care sectors

There is a perception bias relating to occupations within the agriculture, environmental and animal care route. This has impacted on employers’ ability to attract new talent to the occupations – including school leavers. Many apprentices in the sector have told us that they were not encouraged to enter occupations in this route, for example by the school’s careers service or family members, as they were viewed as low wage and low skilled occupations that offered insufficient opportunities for professional careers with high earning potential.

There still seems to be a ‘story book’ view held by many as to what farming encompasses and the view that a farmer’s son may continue a business, more can be done to provide information that will support new entrants to the route’s occupations. In the USA, there is a much higher perception of farming as a career pathway.

Going forward, employers and the Institute need to proactively seek to improve and celebrate the contribution the route’s occupations make, including to the economy as the sectors recover from the impacts that COVID-19 has had on their businesses. It is important that established and out of date perceptions are dispelled. This can be achieved through: 

  • Positive promotion. Increasing positive stories and promoting achievements relating to the agriculture, environmental and animal care sectors including how they consider the welfare of animals and the environment. In addition, traditional skills are often learnt through practice on the job, and are well-suited to technical education, including apprenticeships, which may help to protect a number of traditional skills that are at risk.
  • Improved knowledge of progression opportunities. There are opportunities to develop the route’s professional (level 6 and above) occupational standards. For example, there are a number of animal care professional occupations in the route’s animal care and management pathway that have not yet been developed into occupation standards. Individuals may also progress onto apprenticeships in other routes. For example, a qualified water environment worker (level 3) may progress onto a regulatory compliance officer (level 4) apprenticeship within the business and administration route. In addition, when T Levels in the route are available for first teaching in September 2023, they will provide a foundation for many learners to progress to higher level technical education opportunities. The Institute has started to develop T Level progression profiles for T Levels with first teaching in September 2021, and we anticipate this will be expanded to other routes with T Levels in due course.
  • Increased awareness of the complexity of the occupations. Agriculture, environmental and animal care occupations require significant STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) knowledge and skills. More needs to be done to ensure that the route is viewed as comprising of technical STEM-based sectors. For example, occupations within the route often require detailed understanding of chemical and biological processes and be equipped with a sound understanding of mathematics and the ability to solve problems. For example, occupational standards such as the level 5 vet technician (livestock) contain significant science-related knowledge, skills and behaviours.

4. Apprenticeships

Importance of apprenticeships for the sector

Apprentices play a key role in ensuring that the workforce remains skilled across a range of job roles within this route. Employers reported that there are a number of occupations in the route with an ageing workforce, and a need to upskill future generations with the requisite knowledge, skills and behaviours and to promote the professionalisation of occupations within the route.

In addition, new entrants to the agriculture workforce have an important role to play in helping to drive positive changes within industry. For example, in encouraging and demonstrating safe practices as the agriculture industry historically has a very poor health and safety record. Sometimes the risks are not immediately obvious. There are still a number of avoidable deaths in grain stores, for example, as the dangers are too often underestimated or ignored. During the review, we were told by employers that those more recently trained in their industries are often more likely to comply with health and safety guidance and regulations. Those that have worked in the industries for a long time may ‘cut corners’ perhaps due to complacency and may resist complying with health and safety requirements.

In the academic year 2019/2020, just over 53% were employed by businesses that had 49 or less employees, just over 10% had between 50 and 249 employees and just over 36.5% had over 250 employees.


A key challenge for the route and its occupations is that they have been perceived as low skilled and low paid in comparison to other routes’ occupations. This underestimates the breadth and depth of knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be considered occupationally competent in agriculture, environmental and animal care occupations.

We heard during the review that some employers felt that the occupational map for the route needs further development to provide better opportunities for progression, including in the animal care and management pathway where there are no occupational standards approved at level 6 or above. This means that in some sectors, the opportunities to develop through professional apprenticeships are limited.

In addition, we will continue to enable continuous improvements to be made to occupational standards within the route that will better meet employers’ and learners’ needs. Amie Burke, Skills Development Manager at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), notes that:

Both General Farm worker and Livestock Unit Technician apprenticeships approved for delivery in 2021 are comprehensive standards created by employers to meet industry future skills need. The new General Farm worker standard is a great foundation for apprentices to build the competencies on all aspects of farming, from livestock to crop work, sustainability to health and safety and the key Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours to start a successful career in Agriculture. It is a great opportunity for the individual to find an area of true passion and further develop on this, either into Livestock Unit Technician, Crop Technician or many other transferable job roles in Agriculture such as marketing, business development, digital services and plenty more”

Switching from framework to apprenticeships standards

Framework apprenticeships in the route were popular in providing some of the skills that employers needed. However, employers reported that individuals that had completed the frameworks still required additional training before they could be confident that they were occupationally competent. The ‘tick-box’ nature of frameworks reportedly meant employers could not see the apprentices practically applying their knowledge – something that is fundamental to the route’s occupations.

The new apprenticeships have been welcomed as they have raised the quality bar and provide employers with greater assurance about the knowledge, skills and behaviours being mastered by apprentices across England. The standards now provide more detailed information on what an apprentice will learn and become competent in. Training received is both more substantive and consistent across training provision.

Raising awareness of apprenticeship delivery

Employers recognise there is still much more to be done to increase the awareness and credibility of apprenticeships within the sector. When the review was conducted, partly before COVID-19 lockdowns, there was still some confusion on the roles and responsibilities of employers and providers in delivering apprenticeships (including for assessments). Many of the employers within the sector are micro and small businesses, the consultation feedback highlighted that many are less familiar with the requirements and the government policy developments. This means they are likely to need additional support to onboard new apprentices and, in the future, T Level learners undertaking industry placements with employers. Small businesses may have less time and resources available to keep informed of changes in government policy, relying instead may rely on the local college or training provider to guide them through important changes.

2. Technical education provision and the occupational maps

Across the agriculture, environmental and animal care technical education landscape, there are a variety of options for learners to choose from.

Occupational maps

Apprenticeships and T Level qualifications are based on occupational standards. The standards set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be fully competent in any occupation. The occupational standards are the foundation for the Institute’s technical education programmes within route. An apprenticeship would require the appropriate on-programme and end-point assessments to be developed, utilising the relevant occupational standard as its foundation. The agriculture, environmental and animal care occupational map can be found on our website.

The maps group occupations with related knowledge, skills and behaviours into pathways, making it easier to see the opportunities for career progression within that route. Within each pathway, occupations at the same level are grouped into clusters, to show how skills learnt can be applied to other related occupations. This route has two pathways:

  1. Agriculture, land management and production
  2. Animal care and management.

The occupational map is owned by the Institute’s route panel which is made up of industry experts. Route panels use the maps to support decision making on occupational standards, T Levels and route reviews. The map enables the panel to identify additional occupations that need to be developed or which need to be merged with others or withdrawn.

A key part of this review was to consult on the agriculture, environmental and animal care occupational map to ensure that the route’s pathways represent the correct grouping of occupations. Changes were made to the route’s occupational map in April 2021, when the route review’s summary report was published.

Up to level 3

In this route learners who take up to a level 3 apprenticeship or qualification will learn the fundamental knowledge skills and behaviours that they will use throughout their career. The options available to learners currently are:


An apprenticeship is a great way to secure a successful future, and to develop professional skills from technical levels 2 and 3 through to professional apprenticeships at levels 6 and beyond – enabling career progression.

Occupational standards need to meet the Institute’s current criteria and policy requirements.

There are 39 occupational standards available for delivery in the agriculture, environmental and animal route. On completion of an apprenticeship, an apprentice will be fully competent in that occupation.

Of the 39 occupational standards approved for delivery, 29 are level 2 or 3 (technical occupations), 5 are level 4 or 5 (higher technical occupations) and 5 are at level 6 or above (professional occupations).

An apprentice would become occupationally competent through practical on-the-job training, this represents 80% of an apprentice’s training time. The remaining 20% off-the-job training is usually taken in a college. Apprenticeships are no longer limited to those aged under 25 years will appeal to those who prefer hands-on training and being in a work setting for the majority of the time.

In this route, apprentices will learn the fundamental knowledge and skills at levels 2 and 3 and will have the opportunity to progress onto higher or professional level apprenticeships or other technical education programmes, such as the future T Levels.

For the occupational standards that were included in this route review, we recognised the need to allow additional time for the trailblazer groups to update these given the unprecedented challenges faced by the sector due to COVID-19. The trailblazer groups are currently working with their product managers at the Institute to agree proposed timelines for submitting revised occupational standards.

In August 2021, the government launched a £7 million fund to support more flexible apprenticeship opportunities. Sectors including agriculture can now bid for a share of this fund to support the creation of new flexible apprenticeships that will unlock more opportunities for people to develop the skills they need to get good jobs. 

We need to make sure apprenticeships reflect modern models of employment and work for all employers in all sectors. We are introducing changes to make apprenticeships more flexible and portable than before. This includes flexible training models, with a broader range of options for delivering off-the-job training, including 'front-loading' blocks of training at the beginning of an apprenticeship. In addition, some apprentices may be able to accelerate their apprenticeship, adjusting the content and duration of their apprenticeship training plan in recognition of prior learning. This enables employers to think creatively in how they tailor and deliver off-the-job training to suit their needs, working with providers and apprentices to get the right blend of training for them with high-quality outcomes. An example of where this is currently being applied can be found here.

T Levels

T Levels are new two-year technical study programmes, equivalent to 3 A levels and are delivered in schools and colleges. The content of the qualifications is developed from the knowledge skills and behaviour statements from the occupational standards on which apprenticeships are based. T Levels provide sufficient training in one or more occupations to enable a learner to enter skilled employment.

The T Level programme includes:

  • Technical knowledge and skills specific to an industry or occupation
  • An industry placement of at least 45 days in the aligned industry or occupation
  • Relevant maths, English and digital skills.

T Levels will become one of three major options for students to study at level 3. T Levels are 80% provider based, and 20% Industry based

For the agriculture, environmental and animal care route, there are two T Levels that will be available for learners to start from September 2023 onwards. These are in animal care and management, and agriculture, land management and production. More details on the occupational specialisms in the two T Levels can be found on our website. These specialisms are aligned to the following occupational standards: 

  1. Arborist (level 2)
  2. Forest Operative (level 2)
  3. Horticulture and Landscape Operative (level 2)
  4. Landscape / Horticulture Supervisor (level 3)
  5. Senior Equine Groom (level 3)
  6. Sports Turf Operative (level 2)
  7. Stockperson (Beef, Pigs, Sheep, Dairy) (level 2)

The aim is that both apprenticeships and T Levels will be able to provide an individual with viable routes into an occupation, recognising that individuals benefit from different types of learning.

The availability of the distinct options for prospective learners to gain the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours will mean that employers have a wider pipeline of prospective employees. This will reduce the overall training cost for employers. We will work with the awarding organisation(s) delivering the T Levels to ensure that this review’s recommendations are considered during the development of the T Level qualifications.

More information on T Levels can be found on our website and on tlevels.gov.uk. Our website has the final outline content for the two T Levels within this route, these are in:

  1. Animal care and management
  2. Agriculture, land management and production

Levels 4 and 5 – Higher Technical Qualifications

Higher Technical Qualifications are level 4 or 5 qualifications that have been quality marked by the Institute to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. New or existing level 4 or 5 qualifications submitted to the Institute’s approvals process will receive a quality-mark if the qualification satisfies our approvals criteria. Higher Technical Qualifications align to existing occupational standards, providing learners with entry-level competence and allowing them to enter their chosen profession or progress onto higher education.

There is a growing demand for skills at levels 4 and 5 from employers and students. The number of learners taking qualifications at level 4 and 5 is low compared to other countries and other levels of education.

For Higher Technical Qualifications, we have put in place an employer-led approvals process, building on our experience and expertise of approving apprenticeships and T Levels. We will compare the qualifications submitted to employer-designed occupational standards which set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours an individual should achieve to be deemed competent in an occupation. Where a qualification is aligned to the standard, meets any relevant regulatory requirements, and provides the knowledge, skills and behaviours for entry into the occupation it will be approved by the Institute to use the quality mark.  

The approval of Higher Technical Qualifications will initially be organised on a route-by-route basis. The first approval process started in September 2020 and focused on qualifications that aligned to occupations in the digital route. The first digital Higher Technical Qualifications will be taught from September 2022. 

Agriculture, environmental and animal care Higher Technical Qualifications are currently scheduled for launch in cycle 4 in 2023 with the intention for first teaching from 2025. More information regarding Higher Technical Qualifications and the planned approvals rollout on our website.

Future route reviews

We have also now published full reports for hair and beauty and creative and design. We are aiming to publish the full report for engineering and manufacturing this autumn.

The Institute is making changes to how it conducts route reviews in the future. The new approach is currently being piloted in the construction route and further details are available on our website. Further to this, any changes needed to individual occupational standards outside of the route review will be done using the revisions, adjustments and dispensations process. More information on revisions, adjustments and dispensations can be found on our website.

3. Future of the agriculture, environmental and animal care route

The review considered the route’s future skills requirements and how these may impact technical education provision going forward.

The key principles for the agriculture, environmental and animal route

The route panel were asked to develop a set of key principles for the route, identifying core elements that should be included in all agriculture, environmental and animal care occupational standards, applicable to apprenticeships and the route’s T Level. More information on what is meant by occupational standards is available on our website. The route panel will work to share these with trailblazer groups, so that these core elements are considered in future developments. The principles are:


There is a need to promote the route and its occupations as being technical and STEM-based – giving it the credit and attention it deserves. STEM is included in many of the route’s occupational standards, and so will play a key part in apprenticeships and other technical education programmes or qualifications. Employers, providers and the Institute should actively promote how STEM is used in the route’s occupations going forwards.

During the review, employers and stakeholders highlighted that the route’s occupations are not always widely recognised by many educational institutions such as schools and colleges as including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) content. This is despite the fact that several occupations in the route require high levels of STEM knowledge and skills. For example, the vet technician (level 5) and ecologist (level 7).

2. Equalities/ diversity and inclusion

There is a need to promote the occupations available in this route to a broader and more diverse audience to help ensure that there are equal opportunities to pursue education, training and jobs in the route’s sectors.

We recognise that this can challenging when recruiting in rural areas that may have a less diverse population compared to urban areas. This may be more notable in the land-based sectors’ occupations.

In addition, there may be disproportionate gender representation within the route when evaluating specific clusters or pathways – this may not be immediately obvious when evaluating gender balance at the whole-route level.

As far as possible, the language used within occupational standards should also be gender-neutral, to ensure that technical education programmes are as accessible as possible to individuals from all backgrounds. Inclusive language will help ensure an occupation appeals to the widest possible audience. On our website we have guidance on both language readability and gender-neutral language to help support employers to use plain English and gender-neutral language.

3. Health and safety

Within the route, and notably in the agriculture industry, there has historically been a very poor health and safety record. Sometimes the risks are not immediately obvious, and so high-quality health and safety training is vital. Those who are training in industry, including through an apprenticeship, have a really important role to play in driving positive changes – encouraging and demonstrating safe practices and behaviours.

The Institute will continue to encourage trailblazer groups to incorporate health and safety in a way that makes its importance clear within occupational standards, technical qualifications and assessments.

Characteristics to consider in the agriculture, environmental and animal route

The review also established with the route panel several general characteristics relevant to agriculture, environmental and animal care occupations. These should be considered when developing and approving the route’s technical education programmes, and inform the knowledge, skills and behaviours included within occupational standards:

  • Subsidies and environmental/ sustainability issues. The route’s employers are increasingly looking at how they can reduce their environmental impact and there is a growing awareness and understanding of the impacts of climate change on the sector, for example flooding and crop loss. Those working in the route’s occupations should seek to help positively contribute to reducing negative environmental impacts, for example, by reducing waste and the use of chemicals wherever possible.

As outlined in our summary report in April 2021, we have published a sustainability framework as a guide for trailblazer groups and all 15 route panels to help integrate sustainability into the development of new and updated occupational standards and technical qualifications, educating the future workforce. Trailblazer groups using the framework will be able consider which sustainability characteristics are relevant to their occupations and how to adapt them into knowledge, skills and behaviours statements reflecting the occupational standard and its level.

The UK has a target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, building a greener country in which skills will play a key part. The government is now planning to create and support 2 million high quality, green jobs by 2030 to support the UK to transition to net-zero. The Institute has set up a new green apprenticeships advisory panel (GAAP) to ensure that apprenticeships and technical education are front and centre of this ambition. A table of GAAP endorsed apprenticeships can be found via the government’s Green Jobs Taskforce.

The approvals process for all technical education will ensure the needs of employers within the growing green economy are met. This includes the creation of new standards to reflect new occupations that may, for example, contribute to meeting the challenge to reach net carbon zero or considering how the content of an occupational standard may take account of the green economy where it is not the primary focus of an occupation.

The Institute’s new sustainability framework is designed to support the inclusion of proportional sustainable development considerations in new and revised occupational standards at all levels. Trailblazer groups will be able to refer to the sustainability framework when developing an occupational standard to help include sustainable development considerations into Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours that are relevant for each occupation.

Wherever possible, the Institute will also support the new Green Jobs Taskforce set up by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Education to develop an action plan for creating the necessary new green jobs and skills.

To support bids for subsidies, for example, it may also be necessary for those working in agriculture to be competent in providing valuations for capital goods and services. For some occupational standards, this may need to be reflected at an appropriate level of detail within the content.

  • In some occupations there are likely to be more regulations regarding the movement of plants and animals and increased monitoring and quarantine arrangements. For some occupational standards, this may need to be reflected at an appropriate level of detail within the content.
  • In addition to a range of existing legal requirements in occupations within the route, there is potential for increased regulation in this route as a result Brexit. For some occupational standards, this may need to be reflected at an appropriate level of detail within the content. Whilst there may be increased complexity when engaging across EU jurisdictions, we may see a decrease in domestic regulations over time. This may, for example, include regulations regarding the transport of both plants and animals (including livestock and pets).
  • Customer service and communication skills. Those training and working in all areas of the route need to be able to communicate effectively. This may be directly with customers. However, communication skills may be utilised more broadly to articulate views more formally regarding the sector and any proposed changes, for example some job roles may necessitate being able to effectively respond to and influence public consultations. A number of occupations in the route will require these soft skills, and trailblazer groups should factor these in when developing occupational standards, reflecting the skills required at an appropriate level of detail within the content
  • Social media use. The use of social media is increasingly used more widely within the route’s job roles, going beyond simply communicating with consumers. Social media is increasingly used to raise an organisation's public profile. This may include communicating how a farm is operating sustainably or ethically, or regarding the treatment of livestock where there may be potential for conflict with groups opposed to animal farming. Communication with a wide range of audiences both within and outside of a respective sector can be used to promote/protect media communications and respond to challenges appropriately, proactively addressing the scrutiny of practices and behaviours. Therefore, social media utilisation should be considered by trailblazer groups when drafting the KSBs when looking at current and future needs for job roles.
  • Digital skills. In addition to communication and social media skills, those in the route’s sub-sectors need to integrate digital skills into their ways of working to support their business operations. For example, this may include through digitisation of record keeping for audit and/or productivity purposes. A number of occupations in the route will require digital skills, and trailblazer groups should factor these in when developing occupational standards, reflecting requirements at an appropriate level of detail within the content
  • Understanding and utilising the latest technology. Within this route, technology can be used to enable people to carry out their job roles more effectively and efficiently. For example, the use of GPS in farming or drone technology. Trailblazer groups should factor requirements and advances in technology in when developing occupational standards at an appropriate level of detail within the content
  • Mathematics and problem-solving knowledge and skills. There is an increasing need to effectively use maths and problem-solving skills in this route. Requirements will vary between job roles, trailblazer groups should factor these in when developing occupational standards, reflecting the skills required at an appropriate level of detail within the content.
  • Increased resilience. Industries within the route have learnt in recent years that there is a need to be able to respond flexibly to any challenges and changes. For example, how businesses can diversify their business operations to increase their resilience and how they respond to specific events such as flooding.

There may be opportunities within occupational standards to ensure that learners on technical education programmes are equipped with an appropriate level of knowledge and skills regarding business diversification and resilience.

4. Annex A: Experience of working in agriculture, environmental and animal care

Neil Wildman

As the Training Delivery and Apprenticeship Manager for Forestry England, I lead the recruitment and management of apprentices on the level 2 forest operative apprenticeship, and provide ongoing safeguarding plans for our younger apprentices and welfare for everyone employed on our apprenticeship scheme.

By September 2021, we'll have 16 apprentices on the apprenticeship in different corners of the country on eight sites including Cannock Chase, Thetford Forest and Dalby Forest. The level 2 apprenticeship is perfect for our needs as an employer, the trailblazer did a great job in designing the forest operative. It is also informing our organisation's people plan, with Forestry England now guaranteeing a job on successful completion of the apprenticeship.

We take an innovative approach to training our apprentices, instead of having a linear programme where every apprentice covers the content in the same order, we work hard to meet local district needs for particular skills and the seasonal nature of forestry work. For example, we need to plant our trees in the winter and this determines when apprentices will cover the related knowledge and skills.

Each training course tends to have 4 or 5 apprentices on, who may sometimes travel to different sites depending on what needs to be done in each location at a particular point in time. For example, there might be demand for felling at one site and not on another. We have apprentices who are local to a particular forest or have moved to be able to do their apprenticeship. Our apprentices range in ages from 17 to 45 years old and a third are women. Some apprentices are graduates seeking outdoor occupations, relishing getting their boots on and being outside rather than in an office in front of a computer, whilst others are school leavers. I've also noticed that there has been a noticeable increase in people looking for environmentally conscious jobs that have a real focus on sustainability, and working in our forests helps to fulfil that passion.

We received almost 1000 apprenticeship applications for 14 apprenticeships in 2020 and it's great to see such interest in Forestry England and the opportunities we are able to offer. We do, however, face challenges in being about to provide training provision that meets the demand that we've experienced from potential apprentices.

With an ageing workforce and current skills gaps in industry, having engaging technical education is vital to equip our industry's workforce with the requisite knowledge and skills both now and in the future. Having trained forest operatives will also support the government's ambitions for 2 million green jobs by 2030 and net-zero carbon targets.

Lucy Gallimore

Lucy Gallimore, 19, from Sheffield is currently a level 2 florist apprentice, employed by Monica F Hewitt Florist Ltd.

Lucy decided to look for an apprenticeship after her GCSEs and realising that traditional classroom learning wasn’t the right type of learning for her.

She said: “I wanted to do something where I could be creative and learn on the job. I’m a hands-on learner and find I work best in an environment where I can try something out for myself rather than listening to someone tell me about it.”

Being hands-on is certainly something Lucy is doing in her apprenticeship, with her day-to-day work including checking the condition of the flowers, dealing with new stock, making up bouquets, serving customers and answering the phone. It can be seasonal with the routine and the summer months are increasingly busy due to weddings.

The variety of work is what Lucy enjoys most, with no day being the same and her role changing four times a year due to the seasons. It’s given her the chance to be more creative, which is one of the main reasons she would recommend an apprenticeship:

“It’s given me loads of creativity, confidence and people skills I never thought I’d be able to have and don’t think I’d have gotten if I did something like A Levels. Learning on the job is the best way to learn in my opinion.”

Leaf Coles

Leaf Coles works as a level 3 crop technician apprentice at Bordon Hill nurseries.

I started my apprenticeship in July this year, having finished school and whilst waiting for my exam results. I chose this apprenticeship as I wanted to be doing something physical and outdoors, rather be in the classroom all of the time. I knew that A Levels were not the right choice for me. I still go to college some of the time though, for a week every couple of months. At college I will study for my level 2 Functional Skills qualification in English and gain more knowledge in being a crop technician.

Everyone at my employer has really supported me on my apprenticeship, showing me how to do different activities, from watering the plants, to checking the EC levels in the water and germinating new plants. My colleagues range in ages, but we all get on really well and my employer empowers me to get on and do my work with autonomy.

Some of my friends continued onto sixth-form to do their A Levels, but a few of my friends have also chosen to do an apprenticeship.

I’d definitely say to anyone considering an apprenticeship, if there’s an occupation that you think you’d enjoy – just do it! It’s really worth doing, and I’m looking forward to the rest of my apprenticeship and I’m confident that I’ll have a great chance of securing a job and a great career once I’ve completed it too.