She will develop an AHDB-wide skills strategy that dovetails with other industry initiatives and co-ordinates external skills development across all AHDB’s six divisions (covering beef and lamb, pigs, cereals and oilseeds, potatoes, milk and horticulture).
Howe will help generate and manage funding for both formal and informal external skills development.
Her role is to lead on skills recognition to drive up levels of business management and leadership, build partnerships with training providers, promote career opportunities in the sector and champion the value of lifelong learning.
For five years, Tess Howe worked in a similar role at BPEX, AHDB’s pig division. She introduced the Professional Manager Development Scheme (PMDS) 16-month programme, introduced two years ago and set to be repeated from early 2014, which took pig industry managers to an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Certificate in First Line Management.
She is planning to make the next PMDS a cross-sector affair, with managers drawn from across the agriculture and horticulture industries, as well the pig sector.
"I’m thrilled to be taking up this new, exciting, whole-industry focused role to help further develop a profession of highly skilled and technically knowledgeable farmers and growers in a vital industry which, for all our sakes, needs to be recognised and seen as a top career choice. A profitable, sustainable and valued agriculture and horticulture industry will have to have good skills and good quality people moving it forward.
"This new role clearly demonstrates AHDB’s passion to attract new talent to the industry and encourage those who are working in it to have the confidence, pride and motivation to perform at the best possible level for the future health of their industry and their profession. My role will be to help create, raise awareness and show the value of skills development opportunities made possible within the AHDB family and across the industry."
AHDB chief executive Tom Taylor added:
"Working with less water, less natural resource to satisfy a growing population, now more than ever we need our farmers and growers to acquire new knowledge and skills to add to their experience and develop their capacity for enterprise.
"Agriculture and horticulture is fast becoming a dynamic and progressive stage to demonstrate high skills, practise professionalism and operate profitable, sustainable businesses. This is the image of an industry with a bright future and our commitment to developing skills on the ground will help make this real."