Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has announced the launch of two new farming apprenticeships. These apprenticeships aim to provide individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue successful careers in the agricultural sector. The farm manager apprenticeship focuses on equipping apprentices with the latest research and best practice management techniques to effectively run a commercial farm business. On the other hand, the farm technician apprenticeship trains individuals to operate within Irish farming systems, with a focus on daily operations, compliance with industry standards, and regulatory measures.
Both apprenticeships will involve a combination of workplace training, classroom learning, and blended online delivery. Apprentices will have the opportunity to work with commercial farm enterprises, including arable, dairy, cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, and suckler farm enterprises. These apprenticeships are two years in duration and lead to a major award on the National Framework of Qualifications. The farm manager apprenticeship will result in a Level 7 degree and will be available at Teagasc Kildalton College in Piltown, Kilkenny. The farm technician apprenticeship, at Level 6, will be offered at Teagasc Clonakilty College in Cork and Teagasc Ballyhaise College in Cavan.
Minister Harris expressed his excitement about these new apprenticeships, stating, “This is a really exciting development for both the education and farming sectors. These apprenticeship programs will welcome their first apprentices in September. Embedding these programs will be essential to securing the future of farming. This investment will ensure the next generation of farmers can access the education they want and need while still working on the farm.”
In addition to the farming apprenticeships, an apprenticeship in horticulture will also be available through the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. This program will provide apprentices with the necessary knowledge, skills, and competence to work in various fields of horticulture. The program consists of six streams, including fruit, garden and parks, garden center, hard landscaping, nursery production, and vegetable. Apprentices will specialize in one of these streams throughout the duration of the program.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Farm Family and Social Affairs National Chair, Alice Doyle, welcomed the introduction of these agricultural apprenticeships, stating, “IFA welcomes the new agricultural apprenticeships which will provide a real and substantive career pathway for school leavers, those already working on farms and looking to upskill, or change their careers and get back to employment in new and growing areas. These apprenticeships will help develop knowledge and skills within the agricultural sector and will help with labor shortages within the sector.”
Dr. Anne Marie Butler, Head of Education in Teagasc, also expressed her enthusiasm for the apprenticeship programs, saying, “The introduction of apprenticeships in agriculture and horticulture adds significantly to Teagasc’s education and training offerings to students. The apprenticeship route will open job and career opportunities for young people, and we look forward to taking in trainee apprentices this autumn.”
These new farming and horticulture apprenticeships provide valuable opportunities for individuals to gain practical skills and knowledge in two crucial sectors. By combining classroom learning with hands-on experience, apprentices will be well-prepared for future careers in agriculture and horticulture. This investment in education and training will contribute to the sustainability and growth of these industries in Ireland.