Work to build a new multi-million pound education centre on agriculture at Dumfries House is officially under way.

Prince Charles visited to see work start on the new MacRobert Farming and Rural Skills Centre. He was joined by representatives of The MacRobert Trust and education staff from the charity.

The Prince’s Foundation say that the centre will bring a significant boost to the UK’s rural industry when it opens in summer 2023.

Lying adjacent to the estate’s commercial operation, Home Farm, the state-of-the-art facility will enable The Prince’s Foundation to host events and hands-on workshops for around 1,800 participants each year.

These will include secondary school pupils, school leavers showing an interest in land-based jobs and adult learners starting new careers – as well as farming and rural sector workers hoping to upskill.

Featuring two indoor teaching spaces, including areas for laboratory work and a working barn, the facility will provide students with the opportunity to engage in practical real-life scenarios in day visits and residential courses.

It will be complemented by an online section to ensure a diverse range of participants from all over the UK are inspired to consider rural careers.

Iona Murray, farming and rural skills co-ordinator for The Prince’s Foundation, said: “Thousands of school pupils already engage with The Prince’s Foundation’s farming education programmes every year.

Thanks to the support from The MacRobert Trust, the new Rural Skills Centre will enable us to further develop our short term intensive training programmes and expand the opportunities to school leavers, adults looking to pursue new career routes, and those already working in the industry.

“We have worked closely with those in the sector and other education providers to ensure our offering fills a much needed gap and look forward to building new partnerships with like-minded organisations over the coming years to place the facility at Dumfries House as an accessible rural skills hub and route into the industry.”

The MacRobert Trust is a Scottish company that supports charitable organisations.

Chief executive Chris Hockley said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with The Prince’s Foundation on the development of the new Rural Skills Training Centre at Dumfries House.

“This very important project will enable the Trust to build on the great work it’s already doing to preserve heritage skills, and inspire the next generation to consider rural careers, and support sustainability. Importantly, the development will also benefit those already working or training in the industry by offering upskilling and networking opportunities.”