Plumpton College launches Viticulture apprenticeship

Plumpton College is set to launch the UK’s first nationwide Vicitulture apprenticeship.

The Sussex-based college, which is described as “the UK’s centre of excellence in wine education, training and research”, is seeking UK producers who are interested in taking part in the first pilot group.

Plumpton has developed the government approved new Level 3 Crop Technician apprenticeship standard in to a new Viticulture apprenticeship, which will be delivered on a national basis, with the aim of providing “excellent coverage” of all aspects of practical vineyards management.

The course, which is endorsed by Wine GB, will provide students with a variety of skills including canopy management and pruning, key vineyard operations as well as tractor driving and use of vineyard machinery. The course will also incorporate a range of competency certificates, such as first aid and pesticide application.

The apprenticeship is work-based and would require attendance at Plumpton Wine Division on block placements over the two-year period, during which accommodation will be provided making the course nationally accessible.

Jeremy Kerswell, principal of Plumpton College said: “With the UK wine industry going from strength to strength, it is actively seeking staff to establish and manage its vineyards, so the launch of this course is coming at a crucial time for the UK. We are delighted that we can now fulfil the needs of students wanting to stuffy at Plumpton Wine Division that in the past haven’t been able to due to location. Plumpton College has taken the initiative by offering, alongside our graduate courses in Viticulture & Oenology, a practical-based viticulture course to train a future UK workforce through distance learning.”

The programme would be fully funded for all 16-18 year olds and employers would also receive a £1,000 age incentive grant. If the apprentice is aged 19 or over the employer only needs to make a 5% contribution and if the employer has a PAYE over £3 million per year, the full training fees are paid from their levy account. 

Producers who wish to express an interest in this course can contact the Principal’s PA Tanya Mehmet (Tanya.mehmet@plumpton.ac.uk) by the end of September. Queries about this course can also be directed to Hamish Dow on 01273 890454.

The first apprenticeship cohort is due to start in November 2019. 

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