A new degree level agricultural machinery course, which will accept its first students this September, has been welcomed by the Farm Tractor & Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA).

The representative body of the agricultural machinery trade in Ireland has been working over the last two years to help develop a new approach to the training of agricultural technicians in Ireland.

This work grew out of a widely expressed requirement by the trade at dealer and manufacturer/distributor level for a strong, locally-based qualification meeting the needs of the modern farm machinery sector.

A joint approach between FTMTA representatives, tractor manufacturer / distributor representatives and IT Tralee has resulted in the creation of the new third level course specifically designed to meet the needs both of the farm machinery sector and high calibre school leavers seeking to enter the industry as aspiring service people.

The new course is a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Mechanisation which has recently received final approval and it is a three year program leading to a level 7 degree qualification.

The course is a direct entry program outside of the CAO process and to apply for a place on the course potential students must have been accepted by a sponsoring farm machinery dealer who will provide the required work placements.

Successful applicants will require at least five passes in the Leaving Certificate and three of those passes must be at least of C grade in Maths, English and a Science.

FTMTA Chief Executive, Gary Ryan, says that to succeed on this programme will require good candidates from the start.

“We are suggesting to our members that they look for people with a realistic expectation of achieving a minimum of 300 to 350 Leaving Cert points. This will be a demanding third level course designed to produce high calibre graduates with a modern skillset who will be of considerable value to our sector and indeed our customer base.”

The course will be well balanced mix of college based learning and work placement with the student required to carry out a substantial body of online learning when on work placement each year which will count heavily towards the overall grades achieved.