Press release

£20 million to provide rural businesses with work-based training

A new £20 million scheme to help provide work-based training for rural businesses has been announced by Farming Minister, Jim Paice today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Rural businesses often find it hard to access the best vocational training courses. Defra’s Skills and Knowledge Framework, provided through the Rural Development Programme for England, will offer a subsidised vocational training programme to help improve business skills.

There will be training opportunities in business management and computer skills (ICT), improving resource efficiency, developing leadership qualities, and improving animal health and welfare.  Businesses will also be able to apply for training to improve traditional rural and farming skills and take new business opportunities in rural tourism.

Farming Minister, Jim Paice said,

“We’re investing up to £20 million in vocational training to help rural and farming enterprises increase their profits and get more competitive.  This is the latest in a £165 million package of support to help unlock the economic potential of our rural areas.”

Defra has worked with industry stakeholders to ensure that all training delivered through the Skills and Knowledge Framework will improve businesses’ competitiveness and technical development.

The training packages will be delivered through specialist training providers through The Skills and Knowledge Framework. Following a competitive tendering process, successful training providers will be selected this summer to join the RDPE Skills and Knowledge Framework. From autumn, eligible businesses will be able to access a whole range of training and development opportunities that will improve both their own skills and those of their employees.

Of the £100 million Rural Development Programme for England funding announced in the Rural Economy Growth Review, Defra has already allocated £20 million to the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme and launched the £60 million Rural Economy Grant scheme to provide grants of up to £1 million to transform the prospects and profits of agricultural and rural businesses.


Skills and Knowledge Transfer is the latest initiative in Defra’s £100 million investment in agricultural, forestry, horticultural and rural businesses and communities, delivered through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).The Rural Development Programme for England aims to improve competitiveness in the agriculture and forestry sector; safeguard and enhance the rural environment and foster competitive, sustainable rural businesses and thriving rural communities. 

A £165 million package of support to help rural businesses and communities grow was announced in the Rural Economy Growth Review in November 2011. Measures include:

  • £100 million from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) to help small businesses improve their skills, facilities and competitiveness;
  • Grants totalling £20 million to extend superfast broadband to the remotest areas;
  • £15 million for new Rural Growth Networks to help rural areas overcome barriers to growth such as poor infrastructure, scarcity of business premises and lack of business networks;
  • Action to make it easier to change the use of farm buildings to address the shortage of rural business premises;
  • £25 million to promote rural tourism and supporting its businesses (includes £10 million RDPE funding);
  • Loans totalling £15 million for community-owned renewable energy schemes; and
  • A new action plan to support the agri-food sector, including a £500,000 competition to support innovation and highlight opportunities for growth.

Updates to this page

Published 13 March 2012