Candidates sought for Hadlow College scheme designed to fill skills gap

Sponsors and employers are in place for Hadlow College's three-year fruit industry apprenticeship and now all it needs are apprentices, according to director of finance and resources Mark Lumsdon Taylor.

He told an audience at the Kent college last week that while applications have already been received, no candidates have so far proved suitable, adding: "We expect to have a minimum of 10 apprentices on the three-year scheme at any one time."

Agrovista and Norman Collett were named as main sponsors for the scheme, while soft-fruit grower and supplier S&A Produce and top and stone fruit grower and packer AC Hulme & Sons will serve as employers.

Agrovista head of specialist divisions Charles Coslett said: "We want to give something back and now is the right time," adding that it is of a piece with the consultancy and services company's change of focus from open-field crops to fruit."

Nigel Jenner, technical director at top-fruit marketer Norman Collett, added: "We need the college to secure labour for us going forward. There are massive opportunities available there but no one to take them."

Explaining S&A's involvement, operations director David Suggett said: "There is no one coming up from the bottom. We welcome the opportunity to work with the college to address that."

AC Hulme partner Tom Hulme added: "The apprenticeship programme at the college is a perfect fit for us, but we are looking for high-calibre individuals."

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