IF you want your farm business to perform at its best, is this the right time to invest time in training and personal development skills? Would your business benefit if you took some time out to find out the current best practice on topics ranging from shearing and lambing techniques to First Aid and Health & Safety? It’s the best time of year to prioritise all of these!

Are you keen to streamline or improve systems for the management and financial side of your business? Do you think training could help you or a member of your family work quicker, more efficiently, more profitably?

If you don’t know the answers to some of these questions, and you are registered with Farming Connect, you may want to consider completing a Farming Connect online ‘personal development plan’ (PDP) which will help you identify current strengths or any gaps in your knowledge. Armed with a PDP, you can set out your training goals and update the document online as you achieve each milestone. You will also know what training to apply for!

The first of three funding application windows available this year will open on Monday 5 February until Friday 2 March 2018. The next opportunity to apply for funding will be available from Monday 4 June to Friday, 29 June and this year’s third and final window will be available from Monday, 1 October to Friday, 26 October 2018.

The training element of Farming Connect’s Lifelong Learning and Development programme is delivered by Lantra Wales. Since 2015, more than 2,500 individuals have undertaken short, accredited training courses funded by up to 80%, making it an attractive and beneficial proposition for many businesses and their workers.

Director of Lantra Wales, Kevin Thomas, says the programme is already transforming both the personal and business skills of many farmers and foresters in Wales. Mr Thomas says it is particularly encouraging that there has been a steady year-on-year increase in the number of applications for business development training. He emphasised that application forms for funding can only be submitted online and said that there was a simple process to go through first.

“Before you can submit an online application form you must be registered for Farming Connect and receive your individual ‘BOSS’ user name and password from the Farming Connect Service Centre.  Once you have this, you can simply log on to the BOSS website and complete your PDP,” said Mr. Thomas.

Advice on how to complete the PDP is available through your local training provider or you can consider attending one of the regional PDP events which Farming Connect have arranged in January and February 2018. For dates and locations visit the Farming Connect website.

Anyone planning to apply for funding for completing a machinery and equipment use related course will need to complete Farming Connect’s free online Health and Safety course first.

A list of all Farming Connect accredited training courses together with a list of approved training providers; information on Farming Connect’s range of fully funded e-learning courses, guidance on completing a Personal Development Plan and the funding application form are all available on the Farming Connect website.

If you want any further information about Farming Connect training, services and events which could benefit your business, contact your local development officer who will provide any support and guidance you might require. You will find their contact details at  www.gov.wales/farmingconnect

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