A number of new farm apprenticeship programmes have been announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris.

The Level 7 farm manager, Level 6 farm technician and Level 6 horticulture apprenticeships will be led by Teagasc and funded by the Higher Education Authority of Ireland (HEAI), Teagasc head of education Dr Anne Marie Butler said.

Dr Butler said up to 20 students will take part in each of the two-year apprenticeships, with the first apprentice intake beginning in 2023.

She said a blended learning approach will be taken where apprentices will spend 80% of their time with their host or apprentice employer and 20% in an academic setting across Teagasc’s college locations.

The apprenticeships mark Teagasc’s first venture into working with the HEAI and are the “start of a lot more to come” from the authority in a “new learning mechanism” for farmers, Dr Butler told the Irish Farmers Journal.

She added that the programmes will offer an opportunity to school leavers, as well as those currently farming who wish to gain new skills and further their careers.

Farm manager

The Level 7 farm manager programme will provide participants with “the latest research and best practice management knowledge to successfully run a commercial farm business,” Teagasc said, with Dr Butler also confirming that this programme will be for all farm enterprises.

IFA farm family chair Alice Doyle said this farm manager education will particularly suit people who want to farm but who don’t have a farm of their own.

“The apprenticeship will offer them an ‘asset of skills’ usable in farm partnerships, she said.

She said this new level of qualification with professional training will help farming to be “recognised for what it is, a profession”.