Title Project AGRI-TRANS: Transparency in agricultural occupational training. Practical experiences of European standards, livestock breeding (pig farmer) as an example.
Project Number DE/08/LLP-LdV/TOI/147118
Product Midterm report Agri-Trans
Title Midterm report Agri-Trans
Product Type procedure for the analysis and prognosis of the vocational training requirement
Midterm report AGRITRANS
• Preliminary note
• Regional seminars
• Systematization of results
• Conclusion for the further course of the project
Transparency in agricultural vocational training
European Standards using the example of livestock farming (pig farming)
29.09.2008 – 30.09.2010
Midterm report on general and agricultural
vocational training systems of participating countries
Midterm report AGRITRANS
• Preliminary note
• Regional seminars
• Systematization of results
• Conclusion for the further course of the project
Preliminary note: Objective and progression of the project Agritrans
The main objective of the Agritrans project is the implementation of the innovations “Agripass” (using the example of pig husbandry) and the “Register of agricultural occupations”. Both instruments base on initiatives of social partners and are still negotiated in a European frame. The project Agritrans is an initiative of national trade unions to discuss these innovations with European partners, to identify needs for their improvement, and further, to promote them to a broad (specialist) audience. Besides the formerly participating countries (Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland and EFFAT, the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Union), Great Britain, Rumania, and Spain also participate in the project requested by various worker organizations. The project management rests with the IG BAU, represented by Holger Bartels, and its implementation is organized by the Peco-Insitute based in Berlin.
This objective will be realized by the following activities: introducing both innovations to the bodies responsible for vocational and occupational training and to the social partners; identifying the need for adaptation of the national training systems in the agricultural sector; the development of a consistent training frame; and the implementation of practical tests including recommendations for the social dialogue partners.
These steps help to develop an improved comparability and transparency of qualifications in agriculture, to identify further qualifications needs, to develop the quality of occupational training, and to facilitate the worker’s mobility in the EU.
After a kickoff meeting regional seminars were hold. Participating member states gave an overview on their training systems and training realities. At the same time, first problems were identified which would request action and change. To this point, the evaluation of this first phase is not yet completed. But the next step in the implementation will be the organization and accomplishment of an expert workshop. In the following practical tests, the qualifications described in the register of agricultural occupations will be compared with the actual existing qualifications in three different countries (with an important pig industry). The results will be discussed in a final conference. This discussion will serve as a basis to develop a catalogue of necessary steps to meet the challenges in the EU.
By now, four regional seminars had been hold. Due to retarding in the implementation of the seminars as consequence of an expanded participants’ circle the evaluation phase is not yet completed. Nevertheless, it is expected that the further project will adhere to the time frame as a whole.
The regional seminars
Besides the presentation of the Agripass and Register of agricultural occupations, the central aim of the regional seminars was to review the training situation for the animal husbandry (especially pig breeding) in the participating countries. Therefore, a questionnaire was prepared and sent to the participants in time as a working basis and guideline to facilitate the comparability of each country’s situation. (See annex) Participants were representatives from trade unions and experts, the Peco-Institute moderated.
The questionnaire contains three main points. It raises the issue of the importance of agriculture, especially of the pig production, in the national economy (GDP, employees, occupational prospects, etc.). Then addresses the general training system (organization of vocational and occupational training, etc.) and finally the third issue treated is the specific training case for pig breeding (Preconditions, duration, qualifications, best practices, etc.).
The national reports are still revised but will be posted on the Internet soon (http://www.agripass-online.eu/).
Warszawa (February, 26th – 27th, 2009):
Participants to the workshop in Warszawa had been trade union representatives from ZZPR / Poland, from Agrostar / Romania, and from FNSZ / Bulgaria as well as specialists of the according sectors. Participants from Germany were present, also, the Peco-Institute as moderation, and the IG BAU as project management.
In all three countries, agriculture is an important economic branch, but has underlain heavy changes in the course of the membership in the EU. Many farms had to stop their activities followed by an enormous loss of jobs. Public agricultural facilities had been widely privatized. Still, subsistence farming is a common practice.
The average size of a farm in Poland is about 7,8ha active surface. Half of all farms practice only or mainly subsistence farming. Poland is one of the biggest swine producers (2007: ca. 20 millions). Many enterprises are “mixed” farms so the concrete number of employees is not detectable.
Training is mainly accomplished by state schools. There are good occupational training possibilities to the point of scientific facilities which deal with pig breeding issues. Despite the high unemployment rate there is a big lack of qualified labor in this sector as the image of pig breeding is very low.
Traditionally, agriculture belongs to the most important sectors in Bulgaria. At the beginning of the 1990s, reforms drastically changed the conditions for agriculture. Big farms were mainly closed or converted in smaller privately-led farms. Production considerably suffered from this. The share of agriculture to the GDP significantly decreased (2002: 12,1%; 2007: 6,2 %). Also, the employment declined. Compared to Poland the swine production is rather low (2008: less than one million) but is significantly lower than it was before 1990.
The training system confers to the EU regulations. The public training institution works out the basic principles and is also responsible for the training for animal husbandry. The training takes three to four years and is divided in three degrees. The first degree refers to an assistant of the animal breeder, the second degree refers to the animal breeder and the third degree is an animal breeder with the specialization on one species. Beyond that, there is the possibility to absolve university with a degree as technician or engineer. But mostly, unqualified employees work in the pig breeding sector. Additionally, there are small incentives for workers to work in this sector as the swine production is decreasing and the use of technology increasing. At the same time the farms lack qualified managers.
Agriculture in Romania is the second most important economic sector. 50% of all in Romania consumed meat stems from pigs. Also in Romania the consequences of political and economic reorientation are clearly perceptible. While in the 1990s, 13 million pigs were produced each year, the number decreased nowadays to 4,6 million. Most of them grow in non-commercial farms. But, there are first foreign agricultural companies that settle in Romania with the intention to produce pigs.
There is a well-developed university system for veterinarians and engineers but occupational training schools are missing which prepare for agricultural jobs. After the “revolution” 1990 all middle schools have been closed. As a consequence, there is a need to develop new training standards in agriculture. Similar to Bulgaria three qualification levels exist even if there is no specialization on pig breeding possible.
Paris (March 05th – 06th, 2009)
Participating organizations to the seminar in Paris have been FAA-CC.OO from Spain and CFDT from France and the European federation EFFAT. Peco-Institute again moderated.
Both countries have a strong and growing pig production. Agriculture is important but much less eminent for the economy on the whole than in East European countries. One reason is a high productivity.
In France more than 15.000 pig farms (2005) produce pigs. They employ about 4.000 to 5.000 workers for pig husbandry. Considering that also mixed farms keep pigs the number of employees in this sector probably lies about 16.000. As there is a lack of employees, experience is much more important than a certificate for employment.
Even if there is high-quality training in animal breeding, there is no special training for pig husbandry. Only in continuative education (farm manager) a specialization can be achieved. Generally, farm managers train their employees in their own farms. But as employees often do not have any decision power their qualifications are not used properly. Consequently, the occupation is not attractive enough. Despite the lack of qualified workers training offers are not improved but short-time training is expanded. Whereas in Brittany (an important center for pig production) the cooperation between training centers and farms prevails this is different in other parts of France.
14% of employees work in agriculture in Spain (about 500.000 employees in 31.000 farms – the biggest part is working in manufacturing) which contributes to 2,4% to the Spanish GDP. 30% of produced meat stems from pigs. 25 million pigs are produced each year (growing tendency). The qualification level of workers is not very high and they do not bear much responsibility. Many employees receive the state-defined minimum wage. Spanish trade unions are insufficiently organized in this sector. Consequently, they do not have much influence.
The training is organized in two sub-systems. One is controlled by the ministry of education and concludes with a training qualification. There is a national catalogue on training contents but its implementation happens on a regional level to adapt to regional needs and situations. The training happens largely in schools but practical training on farms is obligatory. The other system addresses to unemployed. Assocations (f. ex. Trade unions, employers) are actively involved in its organization and realization. This training is financed by the ministry of labor and also offers a training to become farmer, a specialization takes place on farms later.
Amsterdam (April, 7th-8th, 2009)
FNV from the Netherlands, UNITE from Great Britain and EFFAT were taking part in the seminar hold in Amsterdam.
130.000 employees and about 250.000 seasonal workers (change from job to job so there is no exact number) work in the agricultural sector in Great Britain. The payment depends on the qualification level: The salary on levels 1 (no skills) to 4 (skilled worker) is regulated, and the salary on levels 5 and 6 is optional and concerns the management. A worker can start working on a farm without being trained but employers often train their employees themselves if necessary. Relevant skills, curricula for the agricultural industry and agricultural training are regulated by Lantra (skills council for land based industries; land based training) on the basis of the public control QCA (Qualification and Curriculum Authority). Lantra, a joint commission of employers and employees, is responsible for all agricultural trainings and certifies training qualifications. Pig husbandry in Great Britain is mainly an outdoor production.
2007 the Netherlands can count about 10.000 pig farms with about 11,7 million pigs and the size of farms is increasing. There exist clear qualification profiles in an echeloned training system which had been worked out with social partners. The demand for vocational training in animal husbandry has clearly declined last years. About 85% of all employees on pig farms are low-skilled. One of the biggest problems is to reach out to these unqualified workers.
The so-called “green” education system consists of a combination of 13 basic occupational training institutions, five superior occupational training institutions and one agricultural university.
The basic vocational training qualifications are characterized by four levels: 1. Assistant craftsman, 2. Junior craftsman, 3. Independent craftsman (three years), 4. Executive foreman (four years). There is no connection between training qualifications and wage level. This means, that qualified workers do not get automatically a job for their qualification levels. Due to decreasing number of students educational institutions cannot any longer offer specialized classes for pig husbandry. Alternatively, pig husbandry training is offered in regional training centers once a week. Unfortunately, this often means long travelling hours and higher costs for participants. Consequently, these offers are not sufficiently used.
Berlin (June 8th-9th, 2009)
Participating organizations in the seminar in Berlin were the Danish trade union 3F, the German trade union IGBAU, the chamber of agriculture Niedersachsen and a member of an examination board for pig husbandry trainings.
Both countries belong to the leading pig industry in the EU.
In Germany, the number of produced fattened pigs is continuously rising whereas the number of farms is declining. In 2007, Germany produced about 27 million pigs, one third of all pigs were produced in the federal state Niedersachsen.
The vocational training system is a dual system. It links theoretical and practical training. During the week, students attend two days the school and three days an enterprise. As Niedersachsen belongs to the federal states with a high share of pig production it also has a vocational training school (in Vechta). Only recognized training enterprises/farms with a competent trainer can host trainees. The training content entails a wide range of activities, which covers besides the specific knowledge sociopolitical, labor legislation and ecological aspects. The usual training takes three years. Various continued training possibilities are partly organized by the chamber of agriculture.
As in other countries there is a lack of trainees due to a negative image of the occupation pig breeding.
About 30 million pigs are produced in Denmark. Most employees work in the manufacturing. Its vocational training system shows many parallels to the German one. One difference can be found in the legislative framework which determines that 90% of the population has to have a vocational training. Correspondingly, great efforts are taken to realize this requirement. Denmark’s training system’s guideline is to be as adjusted to the need and capabilities of trainees as possible. Placement tests have to be absolved to match the best training according to the skills and capabilities applicants already have. There are different possibilities to start a vocational training, first with school or first with practical work on a farm. Generally, the training takes three to three and a half years depending on the existing qualification. Contents cover broad ranges of activities as in Germany, too. As difficult as in the other countries, it is difficult for farms to find skilled and qualified workers due to image problems. Additionally, working conditions are tough, f.ex. the working hours, but wages are lower compared to other occupations.
Systematization of results
To sum up, it can be said, that
• in all countries there is a good formal vocational training system for animal husbandry available but trained/skilled workers leave the sector soon due to different reasons, such as low wages, uncomfortable working conditions, bad image etc.,
• there is a considerable discrepancy between existing training offers and the qualification of people working on the pig farms, and
• there is a lack of skilled workers.
It is important to continue the discussion on the “register of agricultural occupations” and the “Agripass” to develop the transparency and comparability of agricultural occupations. Also, it is important to increase the participation of social partners in this process. A particular problem seems to be the qualification level of many workers in pig production, who are limited in their self-development possibilities. Especially with regard to lifelong learning it is considered as necessary to change this situation.
The expert workshop should pay attention to show the point of view and goals of trade unions for a harmonization of vocational training systems in the EU which can be presented and promoted by organizations that are involved in the European discussion process (f.ex. Effat and Geopa).
Most notably the rural area is marked by few jobs and high emigration. That is why qualification gets such a huge importance. At this point, it has to be asked how the conditions can be changed in a way that emigration can be reduced or avoided. It is important to think about minimum standards in qualification (specific qualification, health and safety standards, environmental standards etc.) to ensure the maintenance of existing standards, to ensure a high meat quality and to avoid health risks and a downward spiral in qualification in the husbandry sector.
Target group Project participants
Area of application Basis for further discussion on the future occupational image of pig husbandry and the diffusion of the Agripass
Product Languages English