MAC-Team

agro-MAC VET project

Agro cases, guidelines & practices related to VET

Guidelines and experience on curriculum development and learning validation related or not to farmer and agricultural contexts, including presentation of practices across the partners or the project.
Several documents are also available in the MAC-Team on-line library:

Vocational Training in Agriculture for adults in Belgium

Belgium is part of the European countries with long lasting background in terms of educational system related to agriculture and also in terms of agricultural vocational education. This case presents the practical questions a (new) farmer may have and the corresponding advantages brought in by a recognised qualification level which can be obtain thanks to vocational training.

Are there any qualifications required to settle in agriculture?
No certificate of establishment or access is required. To work as a farmer, vocational training is not a legal requirement and regulated, but:
To benefit from financial support to investment, a certain conditions related to vocational training must be fulfilled.
Under some regulation, especially in terms of building licenses or leases, titles or degrees/certificate must be submitted or should accompany the application.

What are the available training possibilities for a farmer?
To benefit of these supports (subvention, loans, building licenses...) the Belgian system has put in place certification recognition based on 3 levels/contents with a recognised curricula:

  • General training level courses in agriculture (course A)
  • Courses on taking over an agricultural exploitation/farm (course B)
  • Specialisation courses, depending on the type of farming (course C).
  • Several training centres and agricultural unions have been accredited in Belgium to deliver these courses and corresponding certificates.

Technical and Agricultural School Avgorou (Cyprus)

The agricultural and food sector of Cyprus is in a state of transition due to the new socio-economic environment created by the accession of Cyprus to the EU. The agro-food sector aims at dealing successfully with the new situation through the modernization of the agricultural sector. High importance is given to the improvement of productivity and competitiveness by reducing production costs and by improving quality of products.
Technical and Agricultural School Avgorou was established in 2004 with the aim to offer technical training with contemporary program of study that fulfil the requirements of European Union and the needs of modern times. The Department of Plant Production provides the students the essential background needed in order to deal with the needs of agricultural enterprises of plant production packing, standardization and marketing of rural products, pesticides, fertilizers, and multiplicative material. 
Currently the department is organized in:
• Day classes for high school students of age 15-18
• Afternoon classes for population over 18 years old.
Both programs last for 3 years and consist of theoretical education and 1 day/week of practical training during the 3rd year of study. Presently there are 35 students attending the high school and 10 students attending the afternoon classes.
Considering the problems, prospects and challenges resulting from Cyprus’ accession to the EU and with the objective to contribute to the required modernization and technological transformation of the island’s agro-food sector, the Cyprus University of Technology has established in 2007, for the first time in Cyprus, a department of Agricultural Sciences, Biotechnology and Food Science. The new department will offer a B.Sc. degree in Agricultural and Food Sciences with specialization in three basic areas:
a) Crop Science and Technology, 
b) Animal Science and Technology (including fisheries and aquaculture) and 
c) Food Science and Technology.

A pioneer training model - Maisons Familiales (France)

The MFR propose an original model of education and training, to answer practical needs of farmers in the early 1900’s. Children and youngsters could then remain on the farm when their manpower was needed and attend specific training over other periods. This enabled to keep young forces in rural areas and allow an adapted education to farmers’ children. In short, they invented “sandwich courses”.
They established the 3 principles of the "Maisons familiales", still valid nowadays:
• responsibility of parents in the education of their children. 
• “sandwich” pedagogical system. 
• development of local environment.

Nowadays all over the French territory we can find 430 training centres regrouped in 70 federations, they provide a range of training and qualifications on 200 subjects; of course, traditionally, from farming, catering and food transformation to, nowadays, mechanics or any modern craft. From the 50’s they even opened MFR in Europe, Africa, Latin America and South East Asia.
They are all organized on the same model:
• Each MFR depends on an association of families, fully responsible. 
• Training is alternated with periods in companies. 
• Courses are delivered to small groups.

The concept MFR were implies crossing theory with practical knowledge from experience and enhances self-training and collective thinking.
Their legal status is non-profit organisation and they prepare the same diplomas, at all levels, as the state centres.

Agro-Tourism in the Mosel Valley, Germany - The example of the Loewen estate in Detzem

1. The Mosel (Moselle)
The wine region is Germany's third largest in terms of production with an annual production of about 1.100.000 hectolitres. It is the leading region of Germany in terms of prestige and export of wine. The average size of a winegrowing estate is only 1.7 ha. The area is known for the steep vineyards and mainly famous for its wines made from the Riesling grape, about 60% of the total.
This region is a top tourist destination with many highlights: of more than 6.7 million overnight stays of tourists, about one third of these overnight stays take place in registered private lodgings mostly wineries.

2. Detzem
Detzem is a small village of 500 inhabitants. There are about 25 family-owned wineries, out of which at least 19 offer guest rooms for tourists as well as wine tastings.
2.1 The Estate Edmund Loewen in Detzem
www.edmund-loewen.de
As common here, this winery is family-owned and -operated. About 3.25 ha of vineyards are cultivated, the annual production is between 30,000 and 40,000 litres of wine products. The whole production process takes place in the winery with completely up-to-date facilities.
The owner has received a professional training as oenologist (“Weinbautechniker”) and has worked previously for a retail market chain. His wife has been trained as specialist for gastronomy and Hotel services. Both speak English well. The owner has taken part in several further training activities and has an innovative approach.

2.2 Agro-Tourism at the Loewen winery
The owner decided to improve the economic situation of the business by offering apartments to tourists. They operate five flats on site, especially for families.
Besides bed and breakfast, they offer: wine tastings: for 2 - 60 persons, visit of the wine cellar, snacks, guided tours, wine courses, cooperation at the vineyard.
The owners had to make large investments in property, time and technology. Working in the steep vineyards takes up most of the time of the whole family and is the foundation for their economic viability.
Direct sales to private customers improve profitability and minimize the dependency on the price fluctuations on the market for bulk wine. The sales to visitors and guests have greatly helped to improve their sales of wine to private customers. They make up for almost the complete sales.
In order to be able to match the demand of different wines the family had to diversify with regards to the variety of grapes cultivated.

Consortium of Training Centres within the Framework of New Hungarian Rural Development Plan (Istvan Szechenyi Agricultural Vocational School)

In the 2010 Hungary Rural Development Plan target groups are farmers, young farmers, agricultural entities and companies. This program provides farmers with training supports. They have the possibility to apply for EU subvention. The degree of subvention is 100 percent up to HUF 275,000 (ca. €1000) per annum for each farmers or agricultural entities.
The  Hungary Rural Development Plan promotes the following groups of interventions in general:

  • Improving employability with planned tools:
    services to promote entry to the labour market and employment; developing knowledge and skills necessary for employment; preventing long term unemployment; measures to promote migration within the labour market; subsidies to support the employment of disadvantaged individuals; social security discounts; improving employment rehabilitation;
  • Improving adaptability with planned tools:
    transforming the institutional structure of vocational training and establishing the regional system of vocational training and accredited adult training; developing the capacities of social partners; reducing the impacts of restructuring processes on the labour market; flexibility and security on the labour market.
  • High quality education and availability for all with planned tools:
    improving problems solving capacities; developing digital literacy, language, natural science and lifestyle skills; co-ordinating the needs of training with those of the society and the economy; developing business and entrepreneurial skills and developing the cultural capital; complex educational development programmes; creating of a measurement and evaluation system; modernisation of the training and further training of teachers; introducing cost efficient organisational forms; promoting regional partnerships and helping the integrated education of pupils in disadvantaged situation.

ITG Agrícola in Villava (Navarra), Spain

The institute carries out experimental activities with a practical approach aimed at solving specific problems faced by farmers. It also collaborates in several research projects in collaboration with Universities and Research Centers, from Spain and abroad.
ITGA centre allows farmers to get a complete knowledge about the cultivation they are currently running, and what is more important, to change their mind into a complete and diversified business.
The common experimental lines are:

  • Tests of new crop protection products and new crop protection techniques that are more respectful with the environment.
  • Tests of fertilizers, irrigation systems, tillage and cultivation in general.
  • Programming of growing seasons. Advice to farmers.
  • Tests diversification, crop rotations or new crops.
  • Evaluation of production systems.
  • Training of farmers, as a pillar for greater professionalism, constant updating of their skills and knowledge, and in the end, increased profitability of their farms.

To achieve these goals, the ITGA develop several activities such as permanent Training; the daily contact of the technicians associated with farmers on the farm, as one of the most powerful educational tools, informative talks and posters, Bimonthly magazine “Navarra Agraria”, training courses, etc.
The innovation in this case is the continuous contact with farmers, by organizing special seminars, informing about allowances. Farmers are also involved, as they cannot enroll courses without being members of any farming association within the region, so they are obliged and concerned to be united, as a group, to share common problems or difficulties.

ALATA Horticultural Research Institute - Erdemli / Mersin, Turkey

The ALATA Horticultural Research Institute carries out agricultural researches and improvement studies on the subjects of citrus and other subtropic fruits, mild climate fruits, grape-like fruits, viniculture, vegetable gardening, ornamental plants for indoor and outdoor, medicinal and aromatic plants, apiculture and organic agriculture in the Lower East Mediterranian Region of Turkey.
Also on-the-job training for agricultural technicians, students of agricultural schools and farmers are provided by the Institute, and many kinds of analysis having agricultural aims can be carried out by its Laboratories.
The institute aims at the integration of biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use practices in the agricultural research activities.
Sector or subsector: research, plant production and improvement, husbandry, gardening, flowers, apiculture, food industry…
Target group: agricultural technicians, students of agricultural schools, production companies, farmers.
Geographical coverage: regional (Lower East Mediterranian Region of Turkey)
This example is chosen as a case study because the quality of the cultivars obtained is unique in the worlds’ scale.
The storage endurance of seedless lemons are in the trial stage and studies in a big scale project supported by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), are continuing to produce early (precocious) lemons also as seedless.
Similar methods and techniques are in use in the Institute to produce seedless tangerine.

Informal and Non-formal learning validation

Validating non‑formal and informal learning is increasingly seen as a way of improving lifelong and lifewide learning. More European countries are emphasising the importance of making visible and valuing learning that takes place outside formal education and training institutions, for example at work, in leisure time activities and at home.
The guidelines presented in this publication aim to support this process by identifying the main challenges facing policy-makers and practitioners and – to a certain degree – pointing to possible ways to respond. They should be seen as a practical tool, providing expert advice to be applied on a purely voluntary basis. Their impact relies exclusively on their relevance and ability to add value at national or local levels.
In complement to the present guidelines, a previous report by the CEDEFOP in 2007 on "Recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning for VET teachers and trainers in the EU Member States" is also available in the MAC-Team library.

Practice - Quality in VET in European SMEs - examples in agro-food

"Quality in VET in European SMEs - A review of the food processing, retail and tourism sectors in Germany, Ireland and Greece", report published by the CEDEFOP in 2009.
This study’s basic aims are to:

  • investigate how, and under what conditions, quality approaches to training are introduced in or for small enterprises in various sectors in Member States and to draw comparisons between them, with particular emphasis to the ‘sector logic’, the sectors’ special characteristics and to the national cultural and institutional environment;
  • investigate how small enterprises plan human resources development, how the relevant training is implemented, how the results and outcome of training are assessed and evaluated, and how conclusions are drawn from such evaluations and utilised for improving training and overall performance;
  • make comparisons between countries and sectors and to formulate proposals for disseminating identified good practices and supporting small enterprises in improving quality in training and their competitiveness.

Previous work has established that small enterprises rely heavily, directly or indirectly, on training providers (national and/or sectoral agencies and, to a lesser extent, private training providers). It was, therefore, concluded that, for the purposes of the study, such organisations should be the main source of information; most of the contacts and subsequent interviews have concentrated on such organisations. In addition, several pertinent small firm case studies were investigated in each sector and country.