The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has said that Teagasc intends to roll out three new agricultural apprenticeships this year.
Charlie McConalogue gave the update while responding to a recent parliamentary question from TD Matt Carthy.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture had asked the minister’s opinion on the provision of agricultural internships in Ireland for those from other European Union member states and non-EU countries.
In response, Minister McConalogue said that EU citizens have a right to work within the State.
He noted that a specific “internship employment permit” is designed to facilitate the employment in the State of foreign nationals who are full-time students and for the purpose of gaining work experience.
The minister added that the provision of agricultural internships in the agri-food sector “is a matter for individual companies to consider”.
Under the government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy importance is placed on attracting and nurturing diverse and inclusive talent across the agri-food sector.
Teagasc currently offers 17 agricultural courses across 25 training locations comprising seven agricultural colleges and 17 regional education locations.
In May 2021, Teagasc announced that it was proposing to develop five agricultural and equine apprenticeships.
- Sportsturf Technician (Higher Level 6) – two years;
- Horticulturist (Higher Level 6) – two years;
- Assistant Stud Manager (Ordinary Degree Level 7) – three years;
- Farm Technician (Higher Level 6) – two years;
- Farm Manager (Ordinary Degree Level 7) – two years.
The apprenticeships are currently are various stages of development with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the state training and education agency, SOLAS.
Minister McConalogue said that “significant progress” has been made to develop the programmes over the past 18 months.
“It is intended that three of the new apprenticeships will be rolled out this year,” he said.
“Apprentices will be employed by approved employers and will compete the classroom element with Teagasc,” the minister added.
All Teagasc courses and its proposed apprenticeships are open to applications from both EU and non-EU students, he told Deputy Carthy.
The minister added that 39 people from EU countries and 77 from other jurisdictions are currently participating in Masters and PhD programmes supported by the Teagasc Walsh Scholarships Postgraduate Programme.
Bord Bia is also supporting post-graduate opportunities through its International Graduate Programme, he said.