Blog: Training is key in development of stockpeople

Thursday, 4 January 2024

I have always been a big advocate for training and I enjoy working with producers to help them develop their staff.

Many years ago, I benefitted from some AHDB training as I was very fortunate to go on the pilot of the Professional Manager Development Scheme. It changed me as a person.

I knew I was a good pig manager, but I was terrible at managing people and the course really did put into focus the way I worked with my team. So, I know how training can be beneficial to everybody.

That is why, as a knowledge exchange manager for AHDB, I have always been keen to have a big hand in our pig husbandry courses – the Stockperson Development Scheme and Stockperson Plus. We start with the basics and build from there.

Find out about the Stockperson Development Scheme

Find out more about Stockperson Plus

We brought back Stockperson Plus after a four-year break because we felt there was a need and demand to continue the training after the Stockperson Development Scheme.

We wanted to further develop the technical skills of pig unit staff to benefit the industry as it is clear many workers find themselves faced with greater responsibilities earlier on in their career.

We have changed the sessions and added new topics because the role of the stockperson has changed so dramatically. The updated syllabus now covers topics such as water management and assurance schemes for the first time, with all learning moved online.

Another change to note has been to split the farrowing and weaner management modules into indoor and outdoor groups. This is because of the nuances between locations and we have already had good feedback on the split farrowing sessions we held in November.

We have a range of talent delivering the Stockperson Plus training, from those with a proven track record of technical knowledge to industry recognised people. It ensures we have got the best trainers available for the students.

The Stockperson Plus course is not the first time we have delivered sessions online. That offer began a few years ago with the Stockperson Development Scheme for those mainly in the south of the country where there are greater distances to travel. But we found we got good uptake from people in other regions. Given the success of our moving and handling videos and the fact it is harder for workers to get away from the farms we decided to fully embrace the internet.

Virtual sessions will never replace the interaction of a good face-to-face discussion but there is nothing stopping that discussion continuing back at the farm. It puts a bit more of the onus back on the managers to help their workers develop because they come back from their training and say “I learnt this yesterday, why can’t we do that?”.

The best training sessions are the ones where I have owners ring me up the next day to tell me off because they have never had so many questions asked of them.

However, the Stockperson Plus training can only take development so far. You have to have a willingness to learn, not just on the course, but every day at work. Every day should be a school day.

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Image of staff member Andrew Palmer

Andrew Palmer

Knowledge Exchange Relationship Manager (East) - Pork

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