Pre-apprentices get into gear with tractor training

This year’s crop of Land-based Pre-apprentices are revving up ahead of starting their training.

Despite not formally starting until the end of the month, the budding teenage farmers have already started their tractor driver training in small groups as the programme powers into its 12th year.

The short courses for the students are taking place throughout June in venues in Cornhill, Edzell and at the Laurencekirk training centre of Ringlink, who provide the day-to-day management of the pre-apprenticeship programme.

Pre-apprentice Isaac Durham-Mcalpine said: “On the first day, we were just getting a feel for the tractors. I wasn’t great at first but I’m definitely getting better.

“I’m not from a farming background but I enjoy agriculture and wanted to get into it. The pre-apprenticeship will probably be hard at points but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Trainer Eddie Bruce said his students had made a good start.

“I was very proud of them today when they moved onto reversing the tractor up and down hills. It’s great to see them progress so quickly and grow in confidence,” he said.

Pre-apprentice Danielle Wrigley has already been preparing for her placement, which starts after the week-long training induction at the Scottish Rural College (SRUC) at Craibstone, where they gain their Certificate of Work Readiness, along with additional training units.

“I’ve already met my mentor and went to the Angus Show with them at the weekend,” she said.  “It’s good to create some bond with them before we get started properly.”

The Land-based Pre-apprenticeship is seen as an ideal pathway for progression within the wider rural sector, and allows new entrants to earn and learn in the workplace whilst also gaining a vocational qualification (SCQF4).

Accredited by the SRUC and administered by SDS, the successful scheme is seen as a perfect way to attract new blood, with 30 agricultural and eight forestry pre-apprentices starting out this year. They complete the week-long block induction from 24 June before starting their six-month employment placements with mentor businesses from July onwards.

Over the previous 11 years, half of the trainees – of whom 57% are not from a farming background – have been offered jobs on completing their placement.

Ringlink operations manager Gail Robertson said: “Given the importance of the sector both in terms of supporting nature, rural communities and the economy, it is vital that we find solutions to attract more entrants, widen the pool of applicants and increase training opportunities.”

The search is still on for farmers and producers to host them for a six-month placement from the summer, particularly in Angus, Moray and the Highlands, as well as mentors in the forestry sector in the south-west.

To register interest in becoming a mentor, contact or call 01561 377790.


Pictured are some of the first pre-apprentices of 2024 to undertake their training at the Ringlink training centre in Laurencekirk. From left, Danielle Wrigley, Arran Young, Isaac Durham-Mcalpine and Erin Dunbar, with trainer Eddie Bruce in the driving seat

land-based pre-apprenticeship tractor training