Plans are progressing for a new purpose-built farming and rural skills training centre at Dumfries House to open later this year.

The MacRobert Farming and Rural Skills Centre will include two large indoor learning spaces and facilities for lab work, all linked directly to a working barn where students will get hands-on experience of handling livestock.

The facility will cater for a large range of participants, including secondary school pupils, school leavers showing an interest in land-based jobs, and adult learners looking for new careers as well as farming and rural sector workers looking to upskill.

Cumnock Chronicle: Progress on the MacRobert Rural Skills Training Centre, March 2023.Progress on the MacRobert Rural Skills Training Centre, March 2023. (Image: Iain Brown)

The King joined representatives of The MacRobert Trust and education staff from the charity as construction on the site began in May last year.

Work is now progressing and is due to be completed in September with courses beginning later in the year.

Generously funded by The MacRobert Trust, the state-of-the-art facility will enable The Prince’s Foundation to host events and hands-on workshops for around 1800 participants each year.

Iona Murray, farming and rural skills coordinator for The Prince’s Foundation, said that when completed, there would be no facility in Scotland quite like the new centre.

Cumnock Chronicle: The development plans.The development plans. (Image: Dovecot Architecture & Design Ltd)

“What we’re doing is unique and the range of audience is something special,” she said.

“The new centre aims are to encourage people from non-rural or non-farming backgrounds to consider a career in the sector and give them the skills and knowledge to do so. Farming can be tricky for new entrants – the skills tend to be passed on through generations.

“Another of our aims is to support growth within the industry and help those already working in the sector to diversify and hone their skill sets and underpinning it all is support for sustainable agricultural practices.

"It’s a very exciting project.”

The MacRobert Trust is a dynamic Scottish charity which supports charitable organisations, funds building works across the country and runs a number of prizes, awards, traineeships and endowments inspired by the vision of Lady MacRobert.

CEO 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 inspired 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.”