£1.3 million EU funds to support high level and technical skills training for agricultural and food businesses have been announced.
The funding will expand the Welsh BioInnovation project eastward to cover businesses across the whole of Wales.
Around 50,000 are employed in the agri-food sector in Wales. This includes jobs in agriculture, food production, farm equipment manufacturing, freezing, distribution, packaging, and food import and export. The sector is worth around £7 billion to the Welsh economy.
Aberystwyth University is leading the BioInnovation project from its Biological, Environment and Rural Sciences (IBERS) facility, delivering postgraduate qualifications and industry accredited skills to Welsh agri-food and biotech businesses, supported by Swansea University’s College of Engineering.
The project aims to support business growth, sustainability and productivity through training programmes linked to research and innovation.
It will promote best practice in areas including raw material production, food manufacturing and processing, product development, packaging, distribution, freight, and waste resource management to maximise the circular economy.
Over the next 3 years, the funding will support around 150 businesses in East Wales, and develop the skills and career prospects of technicians, consultants, researchers and managers working throughout the Welsh agri-food and biotechnology industries.
Jeremy Miles said:
Wales is embracing a more sustainable approach to land management as market and climate needs change. Lower carbon solutions are being incorporated at all stages of the food chain system, from farming and agriculture, to food production, processing, consumption and waste disposal, for example by making crops more drought and pest resistant.
It’s all thanks to advances in the study of ecosystems and bio-innovation, and collaboration between Welsh universities and businesses in Wales. High level and technical skills are crucial to supporting innovation and growth in this area, and this is where the BioInnovation project comes in.
EU funding is boosting Wales’s progress in R&D, science, and skills training, which benefits both businesses and the prospects of people working in the farming and food sector. This translates into economic growth, as well as contributing to solving global challenges. With EU support, we’re making real strides towards a more equal, more prosperous, and greener Wales.
Economy Minister Ken Skates said:
I am passionate about improving the integration of economic, employability and skills development, which are key enablers to increasing prosperity in Wales.
This significant investment will help do that by supporting businesses to provide in-work technical training to highly-skilled employees in an important sector for the Welsh economy.
Prof Mike Wilkinson of Aberystwyth University said:
Most businesses can see the advantages of reducing waste and making more from less. Our courses aim to provide them with the skills and knowledge to be able to integrate this ‘circular economy’ ethos into both their day-to-day activities and their strategic decision making processes.
We have worked hard to develop courses which are accessible to people with busy lives and equip them with the tools they need to make a difference to their businesses.
Since 2007, EU-funded projects in Wales have created 48,700 jobs and 13,400 new businesses, while assisting 26,900 businesses and helping 90,000 people into employment.