Taste 4 Success Skillnet, in collaboration with the Atlantic Technological University (ATU), launched an online food business and product innovation higher diploma course on 25 August at ATU Donegal Letterkenny campus.

The course will run as part of the September 2023 programme.

Responding to the evolving needs of food production and food manufacturing businesses nationwide, ATU has designed this national programme in close collaboration with Irish businesses and prominent industry bodies.

It is structured within a work-based learning (WBL) framework and is delivered 100% online and on a part-time basis.

Participants will graduate with a QQI certified Level 8 higher diploma, in under one year, while continuing to work their normal schedule.

Providing a higher education platform

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie Mc Conalogue said: “This collaboration between the Taste 4 Success Skillnet and ATU is a wonderful example of providing a higher education platform for food producer businesses right across the country.

"This online higher diploma in food business and product innovation is an ideal opportunity for industry professionals to build up their skills and grow their business through completion of this programme, all while continuing their normal job.

"It is, of course, difficult to run a business and study at the same time. However, the structure of this online part-time programme facilitates these artisan and other food producers to do just that.”

Work-based learning

This WBL framework places the learner at the core of knowledge transfer, becoming the link between the online classroom and their own shop floor.

Rather than completing sit-down exams, students are empowered to undertake assignments based on their own existing role and business.

This real-life, problem-solving WBL structure provides a viable business development model for participants, who are given the freedom to adapt their learning around their existing job with minimal disruption to their operations.

The course content will be delivered by an ATU-wide team of academic and industry experts across Donegal, Sligo, Galway and Mayo.

Work-based learning programme manager at the faculty of business, ATU Donegal, Gary Mc Gill said: “I am delighted that ATU, through our higher education 4.0 project, along with the Taste 4 Success Skillnet, have this shared vision, providing hard working and ambitious food producers nationwide with this opportunity to sustainably develop their businesses and grow their own careers.

"Whether it’s enhancing your next pipeline of products, or upskilling on strategy, finance, marketing and more, this comprehensive WBL higher diploma is the platform for acquiring that competitive advantage in an already crowded marketplace.

“The programme is tailor made for SME business owners and managers within food production companies nationwide; also, those in medium to large food enterprises eager to fast-track career growth. Places are limited, so I am encouraging those interested to apply today.”

Taste 4 Success Skillnet network director Bridie Corrigan Matthews said: "The food sector is both an exciting and challenging environment – with new products, tastes and experiences always in demand.

"Being fully online, the programme will enable busy food producers and managers to take the journey from reviewing their own business skills, to the business needs, to assessing and developing new product innovations for their business.

"Taste 4 Success Skillnet is delighted to collaborate with ATU on this initiative and to provide significant funding to enable food producers and managers across the food, beverage and seafood sectors, to access this programme and upskill online, from anywhere in the Republic of Ireland.”

To apply for the diploma, click here.

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