Open call for submissions to national research project

Macra Agricultural Skillnet, contracted by Macra na Feirme and Skillnet Ireland, has been awarded a fund to complete a significant research project into the ‘Development and implementation of a continuous professional development framework in agriculture and farming’.

Making agriculture an attractive industry to work in and farming an enticing career for our young people has never been more important, with a significant gap emerging in the labour market.

Many industries have established continuous professional development frameworks and models. Within the farming and agricultural industry in Ireland, no such framework exists.

Several stakeholders within the agricultural sector including Macra na Feirme; the Department of Agriculture; the Health and Safety Authority; the FRS; and Teagasc have consistently referred to the need for a culture and climate of CPD for farmers.

A strong need

While all agree with the need for CPD in farming and agriculture, none of the stakeholders have articulated how a CPD framework could be established. This research will explore suitable frameworks for the farming industry.

Unlike other sectors, farming and agricultural working can be an isolated career without the professional network that exists in other industries.

This research will explore current CPD models and frameworks in farming and other similar industries across comparative nations to determine if a farmer/agricultural CPD framework exists.

There is broad agreement at EU and Irish level of the need for a CPD approach to farming, this thought-leading research will give credence to the discussion not just at Irish member state level, but also at EU level.

The need was also outlined as recently as February 2018 in ‘People in Dairy Action Plan’, an initiative of the Department of Agriculture and Food, following on from The People in Dairy Report (Paidi Kelly, Teagasc Moorepark).

One of the key initiatives ranked second in the action plan is ‘A new co-ordinated CPD programme for dairy farmers and workers’. Every progressive industry needs to train and retrain people at all levels.

A programme of recognised CPD courses catering for all skills and enterprises will help in attracting new people, retaining existing talent and allowing them to work more efficiently and effectively.

In order to sustain competitiveness and growth to meet our Foodwise 2020 targets, the industry will have to be able to measure skill levels of individual farm workers, managers and owners.

Further education

Widely recognised courses with equally recognised standards must be available to those in the labour market who want to enter the industry.

Before applying to set up the Skillnet network in 2015, Macra had identified a need for recognition of further education undertaken by those in farming. During its first year the network gave credits to the courses it was delivering and structured an award around it.

This could never reach the level of desired success without the full backing of the industry. This will only be achieved by the being able to present a concrete business case for recognising further training in a structured manner, to give it merit and value.

The publication of credible research outlining definite actions, which has buy-in of all stakeholders, will be the key to success.

The tender for conducting this research was awarded jointly to Limerick Institute of Technology and Broadmore Research.

They have a wealth of experience conducting this type of independent research. We are inviting all interested farmers and stakeholders to contribute to the study – to have consulted with all relevant parties and taken their input on board will be vital to the success of the project.

Further information

Submissions can be entered online by visiting: https://macra.ie/skillnet; or by emailing to: [email protected] by January 31.

The research project findings will be published at the end of March 2019.