Agricultural education and lifelong training in the EU

24-10-2017

European farmers fulfil a vital role in providing safe and affordable food to nearly 500 million European citizens, and maintaining their countries' landscapes. However, the farming population is ageing and generational renewal has become a crucial issue. The farming sector needs to attract a new generation of farmers with the necessary skills to live and work in a challenging context. They will have to produce more efficiently while protecting the environment; contribute to the fight against climate change; meet society's demands regarding healthy and balanced diets; and keep up with increasingly rapid scientific and technological progress. It is therefore essential that farmers benefit from adequate agricultural education and training and acquire the various skills needed to adapt to a changing environment. On average, only 8.5 % of the present generation of European farmers have received full agricultural training, and 70 % have only practical experience. Initial training is a national competence and agricultural education systems vary widely throughout the EU. They provide the path to a wide range of careers in agriculture and forestry and deliver degrees in a number of disciplines, from diploma courses with a vocational orientation to bachelor degrees or doctorates in applied sciences. The current common agricultural policy places strong emphasis on knowledge sharing and innovation. It provides for specific measures to help farmers access advice and training throughout their working lives. Support is also provided for innovation via the European innovation partnership network for agricultural productivity and sustainability (EIP-Agri). In several recent resolutions, the European Parliament has stressed the importance of education and training for farmers, in particular as a way to foster their ability to work in an ever-evolving sector.

European farmers fulfil a vital role in providing safe and affordable food to nearly 500 million European citizens, and maintaining their countries' landscapes. However, the farming population is ageing and generational renewal has become a crucial issue. The farming sector needs to attract a new generation of farmers with the necessary skills to live and work in a challenging context. They will have to produce more efficiently while protecting the environment; contribute to the fight against climate change; meet society's demands regarding healthy and balanced diets; and keep up with increasingly rapid scientific and technological progress. It is therefore essential that farmers benefit from adequate agricultural education and training and acquire the various skills needed to adapt to a changing environment. On average, only 8.5 % of the present generation of European farmers have received full agricultural training, and 70 % have only practical experience. Initial training is a national competence and agricultural education systems vary widely throughout the EU. They provide the path to a wide range of careers in agriculture and forestry and deliver degrees in a number of disciplines, from diploma courses with a vocational orientation to bachelor degrees or doctorates in applied sciences. The current common agricultural policy places strong emphasis on knowledge sharing and innovation. It provides for specific measures to help farmers access advice and training throughout their working lives. Support is also provided for innovation via the European innovation partnership network for agricultural productivity and sustainability (EIP-Agri). In several recent resolutions, the European Parliament has stressed the importance of education and training for farmers, in particular as a way to foster their ability to work in an ever-evolving sector.