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New flexible training opportunities for agri-food professionals from the AgriFood Training Partnership

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Today marks the launch of the new AgriFood Training Partnership (AFTP) which builds on the heritage of the three previous Advanced Training Partnerships (ATPs) in agri-food, food and pasture. These three partnerships were all funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) with the primary aim of translating cutting edge research into applied industry expertise with the agri-food sector. Collectively since 2012, the ATPs have delivered short course training and postgraduate qualifications to over 1500 individuals from more than 700 businesses.

The AFTP combines the complementary skills and knowledge of six university partners who are internationally recognised leaders in agri-food research and training and who collectively are offering over 150 courses and workshops in all areas of agricultural production, environmental protection, food manufacture, scientific research & development and associated business & transferable skills.

Carol Wagstaff, Professor in Crop Quality for Health and Director of the AFTP stated: “We are delighted to be in the privileged position of receiving a further £1.5 million from BBSRC to enable unification of the AFTP and expansion into new markets both at home and overseas. Today’s launch event marks the start of a tremendous opportunity for us to work together with the agri-food sector to deliver the skills the industry needs to drive increased productivity, profitability and sustainability for both pre and post farm gate agri-food businesses. In an era of climate change, food insecurity and an ever growing population, the AFTP is helping the industry’s best talent to deepen their knowledge, advance their skills and progress their careers through flexible training opportunities and continuing professional development.”

Karen Lewis, Interim Executive Director, Innovation and Skills, BBSRC added: “The agri-food sector is one of the UK’s largest industrial sectors, employing 3.9 million people, and delivering an estimated £20.1 billion in exports (ref 1). BBSRC is pleased to be funding the development of this high level skills programme that will enable the agri-food industry to benefit from the cutting edge knowledge and skills needed to improve productivity and grow the bioeconomy.”

David McAllister, Head of Skills and Careers at BBSRC stated: “A highly skilled and productive workforce is vital for the UK agri-food sector for it to remain globally competitive and contribute effectively to UK productivity and the industrial strategy. The AFTP, advised by industry practitioners, will help exchange cutting-edge knowledge and skills from the higher education research base to industry. This opportunity to improve skills whilst remaining in work is invaluable.”

Richard Simpson, Development Director, Kingshay Independent Dairy Specialists reported: “I and several of my team have participated in the online training, we were attracted to the courses because of their flexibility …we have very much put what we have learned into practice in the projects we are doing. Having a better understanding of the science behind the subject has really helped both in project development and the advice we give to clients.”

Chris Wells, Managing Director, Leatherhead Food Research added: “As well as being a partner in the founding of the ATP, we have also sent several of our team on courses there. This has built both skill and confidence in our business. By investing in top calibre capability we are able to offer real value in the science expertise and innovation advice we deliver to our global food and beverage members and clients.”

People interested in finding out more about courses and training opportunities are encouraged to search the new AFTP website where visitors will be able to search courses by location, format and subject area and book directly online. The website will contain up-to-date news and blogs from industry and testimonials from current and past students and alumni.


Notes to editors

The AgriFood Training Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Reading, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cranfield, Harper Adams and Nottingham and has been funded over the next five years by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The AFTP will be hosting a formal launch event between 16:00-19:00 at the Geological Society on 4 July: AgriFood Training Partnership: Launching on 4 July 2017.

Anyone unable to attend the event in person is welcome to watch live video streaming on Facebook (AFTP on Facebook) and on Twitter (AFTP on Twitter).


  1. GOV.UK: Food statistics pocketbook 2016.

Tags: agri-food funding food training people skills and training press release