Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Questions (271, 272, 273)

Carol Nolan

Question:

271. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farm apprenticeships which were made available in 2018. [12645/19]

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Carol Nolan

Question:

272. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farm apprenticeships that were taken up in 2018. [12646/19]

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Carol Nolan

Question:

273. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to increase the number of farm apprenticeships. [12647/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 271, 272 and 273 together.

The Farm Apprenticeship Board (FAB) was established in the 1960s to administer the Farm Apprenticeship Scheme. It filled a very well recognised role in farm management training. Following on from recommendations of the report of the Taskforce on Agricultural Education and Training (2000), the Farm Apprenticeship Scheme was incorporated into Teagasc education structures. The Scheme was discontinued in the early 2000’s following a decline in overall enrolments in agricultural education. As such, there are currently no recognised apprenticeships in place in agriculture other than a long-established craft apprenticeship in agricultural mechanics

The development of ‘new’ apprenticeship programmes and awards is governed by the requirements set out by the Apprenticeship Council in conjunction with SOLAS, the Higher Education Authority and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).

Key requirements for new national apprenticeships are that they:

- are industry led;

- are of at least two years’ duration;

- contain a minimum of 50% on-the-job training;

- prepare apprentices to work autonomously and competently in a specific occupation;

- involve a Contract of Apprenticeship;

- provide a salary for the duration of the apprenticeship (on-the-job and off-the-job).

In response to calls for new apprenticeship proposals in the agricultural sector, Teagasc on behalf of industry stakeholders, submitted five apprenticeship proposals to the Apprenticeship Council in the following areas.

- Farm Technician (Level 6)

- Farm Manager (Level 7)

- Assistant Stud Farm Manager (Level 7)

- Applied Horticulturalist (Level 6)

- Sports Turf Technician (Level 6)

The development of each individual apprenticeship is being overseen by an industry-based consortium group. The Apprenticeship Council has approved the occupational profiles developed for each of the apprenticeships. The next step in the process is to have the proposed education programmes individually validated by QQI, which is a detailed process in its own right. The validation process is likely to extend into 2020.

Apprenticeships are just one piece of the jigsaw in addressing education and training requirements in the agricultural sector. In 2018, more than 7,000 learners participated in Teagasc school leaver, adult vocational education and training programmes and higher education programmes delivered with the Universities and Institutes’ of Technology. Teagasc also provide short courses and continuous professional development courses for famers and agri-food industry personnel. Typically, 2,000 - 3,000 participate annually, but this may be substantially higher in a given year.