The head of a leading agricultural and horticultural college in Yorkshire will tomorrow unveil her plans for the next three years.
In her first full academic year since joining Askham Bryan College as its chief executive, Catherine Dixon will set out a strategy that will guide the development of the curriculum and facilities of the college near York up until 2020.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead an event to launch the strategy, Ms Dixon said the task ahead was clear, regardless of the uncertainty surrounding the agricultural sector and its associated career opportunities as a result of Brexit.
“At a high level, it’s really clear in my mind what we need to be doing. As a college focussing on own students’ futures, we have to give them the work and life skills to be successful in the future and to do that we need to be working closely with the industry at thinking about Brexit and the impact that will have.”
Ms Dixon, who took up her post last April, said she was keen to hit a target of having 900 apprentices, including in agriculture and land-based engineering, to meet the challenges of the industry’s future, and that she hopes the college can introduce more ‘high level’ apprenticeships.
She also explained that the college is currently in the process of securing a local enterprise partnership grant to launch a digital farm project.
The availability of data is seen as key within the agriculture industry as a means of benchmarking performance and driving improved productivity on farms, and the digital project would enable students to chart the effectiveness of changes to real farm practices.
Ms Dixon told of wanting to grow higher education opportunities, with the college now going through a process that will allow it to award its own foundation degrees, rather than them being validated by university partners. She added: “We are committed to taking the college to the next level.”