As part of our work to amplify the delivery of land and nature-based skills, training and knowledge in Cumbria, we carried out a survey of employers, and people who study or work currently in the land and nature sector, or want to do so. The results will help shape a Land and Nature Skills Service for Cumbria.
As UK nations seek to tackle multiple challenges, from post-Brexit farming and environmental policy to the UK's climate leadership in the run up to COP27, government and business are recognising the critical importance of community-based approaches to delivering practical and radical outcomes.
Responding to the challenges ahead requires a highly skilled, localised workforce; there are organisations poised to deliver this, but also gaps in skills, knowledge and training which need to be filled to build a workforce fit for the future. Locally, the loss of Newton Rigg College – the only land-based college in Cumbria - has exacerbated this.
FFCC's Cumbria inquiry is helping to address this by convening land and nature based partnerships, businesses, communities, young people, education institutions, NGOs and statutory bodies to develop a Land and Nature Skills Service (LANSS) for Cumbria. The service will link up opportunities already being delivered as well as identify and address skills gaps.
After a 12-month initial collaboration amongst dozens of organisations, the LANSS project team is now scoping how the service can best support the emergence of a skilled Cumbrian workforce fit for the future.
LANSS is one of a number of skills-based pilot projects sharing learning across UK countries and counties.
FFCC Cumbria is developing a toolkit for farmers and farm advisors with guidance designed especially for the needs of Cumbrian upland farmers. The toolkit is being developed with farmers, farming support organisations and other farming related professionals (vets, accountants, land agents), acting together to get this advice up the farm track and onto farm kitchen tables in 2022.
Over the course of the inquiry, we have witnessed many examples of best practice initiatives in Cumbria. These point to an opportunity to join the dots and amplify the work already underway in Cumbria, identifying gaps and fostering collective leadership for a fairer, more sustainable future for food, land-based industries, nature and communities.
Following recommendations from the University of Cumbria and FFCC's Our Future in the Land report, and partners across different sectors in Cumbria, FFCC's Cumbria inquiry will focus on two immediate related work areas, whilst supporting other aligned projects in the county, with a view to reassessing our own priority work areas over time.
Across UK countries and counties, citizens are taking action. FFCC teams hit the road (on our bikes) in 2021 to find out how they are making change, and what government and business can do to support them. Together, these stories form our Field Guide for the Future
The county's population of half a million is dwarfed by tens of millions of visitors each year, many of them heading to the iconic Lake District. Recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural landscape, the area is subject to intense debates about the future of upland farming and the impacts of potential policy changes on local communities.
Financial support for the uplands is complex to navigate, making it challenging for farmers, funders and support organisations to deliver change in an effective manner. At the same time, whilst high-quality food is produced in Cumbria, diets do not reflect this equally across the county: there are significant areas of deprivation and diet-related ill health and progression to higher education are well below the national average.
FFCC's Cumbria inquiry seeks to address these challenges by convening leadership across sectors, developing a shared vision for change, providing a supportive backbone across many related projects and sharing learning within and across UK counties.