Celtic Cousins learn from Welsh business skills success

21 October 2016

Wales continues to lead the way in business support to the agricultural industry with launch in Northern Ireland of a pioneering initiative developed by Menter a Busnes.

The first group of agricultural consultants in Northern Ireland have embarked on a Wales designed module that will help them implement support schemes to the farming sector.

Combining expert business support techniques honed by decades of working in the Welsh agricultural industry, with accreditation by Aberystwyth University, Menter a Busnes have created a unique post-graduate module in Facilitation Skills.

Menter a Busnes have employed local facilitators to help deliver their business support services for over 25 years.

During that time the company have built up considerable expertise in facilitation methods, and its collaboration with Aberystwyth University on a specific facilitation module will further strengthen Menter a Busnes’ offer to its clients as well as creating a blueprint for other parts of the UK.

Says Lead Tutor Wyn Owen, “Working closely with Aberystwyth University we’ve managed to design a module that acknowledges and develops the skills associated with effective facilitation, and the fact that our Celtic neighbours have now signed up to the course is further endorsement of its value to delivery staff.”

Initially designed for Menter a Busnes staff delivering the Farming Connect programme, the facilitation course has already achieved success at home. Over the past two years two groups of 12 facilitators have undertaken the course, with the second cohort of students having just received their results.

Says Einir Davies, Farming Connect’s Development and Mentoring Manager, “The majority of the Farming Connect team are highly experienced facilitators but the course has taken the team to a new level, and was particularly effective in identifying the appropriate facilitation techniques for different situations.  It also acknowledges that facilitation is a specific skill that’s essential for some roles.”

The development of the course and its uptake in Northern Ireland is yet another notable achievement for the company which has an excellent track record of delivering programmes on behalf of Welsh Government and other organisations, often exceeding ambitious business targets.

Implementing and developing the facilitation approach is key to successfully delivering business support where it is needed most, believes Menter a Busnes’ Chief Executive and course tutor, Alun Jones.

“As we deliver services throughout Wales to a wide range of sectors including the farming industry in very remote areas, excellent local knowledge and facilitation skills are key to our success,” he said.

Facilitation is instrumental in the company’s delivery of Welsh Government’s flagship Farming Connect programme, which is the envy of many other UK and European countries.

Therefore in Northern Ireland, where the process of establishing Business Development Groups is underway to deliver knowledge transfer to its agricultural industry, drawing on Menter a Busnes’ experience of designing activities and delivery techniques was an obvious choice of training provider.

Said Alun Jones, “The first intake of Irish students will complete the facilitation module over the coming months and others are lining up to undertake the training from within and outside of the agricultural industry.

“Further collaboration between Menter a Busnes and Aberystwyth University is on-going with a Coaching and Mentoring module being proposed for next year.  This will add to Menter a Busnes’ portfolio of commercial services for the business community in Wales.”

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