University College Cork (UCC) has launched a new Graduate Development Programme which leads to a Level 7 Diploma in Leadership for the Agri-Food Sector.

UCC noted that, while larger agri-food businesses have their own development programmes for graduates, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often don’t have the resources to provide this.

The university says that this new programme “offers a valuable bridge between university and working life and will provide relevant business, management, leadership and professional development skills to graduates in SME companies, without burdening the companies with the expense of developing an in-house programme”.

The following type of graduates are encouraged to attend:

  • Graduates who are working in an SME agriculture or agri-food company, and have the ambition and motivation to develop their management and leadership skills;
  • Graduates who have graduated in recent years, ideally but not necessarily from food science, agri or related disciplines;
  • For applicants without a Level 8 degree, prior experiential learning and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) will be taken into account.

The programme design facilitates individuals who are working full time, and who wish to study part time, in an integrative manner with their careers.

10 two-day interactive workshops, well separated out time-wise, will be held, alternately in UCC or at a central Ireland location (with online workshops also possible, should the need arise; however, where possible, each module will be delivered face to face).

Prof. Alan Kelly of the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences in UCC’s College of Science, Engineering and Food Science is the academic director.

A “dedicated, experienced and tested team”, including a programme manager; highly experienced lecturers; and administration staff are behind the programme.

An in-company project will be undertaken by each student, which enables course participants to gain an in-depth appreciation of a topic of their choice within their company.

The modules covered in the course are:

  • Introduction to management;
  • Communication and presentation skills;
  • Performance management;
  • Business planning;
  • Time management;
  • Project management and team working;
  • Lean;
  • Decision making and critical thinking;
  • Finance for non-financial managers;
  • Innovation, sales and marketing.

The programme runs in 10 two-day workshops starting on September 30, up to May of next year.

The net cost for a participating company is €4,250 per student. This represents a significant subsidy from Macra Agricultural Skillnet.

This figure includes tuition, course manuals, off-site room hire where applicable, lunches and refreshment breaks.

Places on the programme are limited to 20.