England

Cider apprenticeships offered after successful trial

Harvesting apples for cider
Image caption Herefordshire and Ludlow College said most of the training was based in orchards and workplaces

Apprenticeships in cider making and orchard care are being offered after a two-year trial was hailed a success.

The pilot apprenticeships were based at Herefordshire and Ludlow College's Holme Lacy Campus to "address a skills gap" identified in the industry.

Yeovil College in Somerset will now offer cider apprenticeships from September, alongside the scheme continuing in Herefordshire.

About 16 place are expected to be offered in total for 2014-2016.

A spokesperson for the Cider & Perry Orchards Network of Excellence said "the scheme has been so successful that it will be rolled out" and added "globally sales of high quality British cider has never been stronger, there has never been a better time to join the cider and orcharding industry."

'Wholly relevant'

Tom Churchill, one of the apprentices on the Herefordshire trial, started studying sport, then took a job with Westons Cider before becoming an apprentice. He said he enjoyed "lots of friendly banter" as well as "learning about soil science".

"I really like working here and being outside.

"My family background is in farming and I hope to have my own smallholding one day, as well as my work here [at Westons Cider]," he added.

The National Association of Cider Makers said there are 17,300 acres of cider apple orchards in the UK, which despite recent flooding concerns, make an average six million hectolitres (130 million gallons) of cider each year.

Herefordshire and Ludlow College said the apprenticeships were "wholly relevant" and followed demand from industry employers.

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