Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 27 April 2017

'€31,500 not enough to lure new recruits to Teagasc'

Attendees at Teagasc Beef Seminar in Grange, Co Meath. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Attendees at Teagasc Beef Seminar in Grange, Co Meath. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Teagasc has announced plans to hire 75 highly qualified staff members this year however starting salaries of just €31,500 is set to become a major stumbling block.

Although frontline staffing levels – researchers, advisors educators-  have stabilised at the agriculture and food development authority over the last four years,  Teagasc chiefs are concerned the authority’s salary situation is “out of line” with the private sector.

Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director said: “alongside all public sector employers the biggest difficulty we’re facing at the moment is starting salaries.”

“We don’t have quite the system the gardai or the teachers have, starting salaries are not competitive at the moment and that is something we are hoping to address particularly for someone who has completed a PhD and done some post doc research and is coming into the public sector for the first time,” he said.

“The starting salary is about €31,500 for someone with a PhD and possibly some post doc experience outside the private sector. It’s an anomaly due to the embargo and cap on pay and it is going to be unwound but we would just prefer if it was unwound sooner rather than later. At the very least there should be some allowance for the years they completed the PhD that would bring it up to scale”.

Speaking at the launch of Teagasc’s Annual Report and Financial Statements 2015, Dr Noel Cawley, Chairman, also highlighted the issue.

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle with Teagasc Chairman Dr Noel Cawley at the publication of the Teagasc Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2015.
Photo: John T Ohle.
Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle with Teagasc Chairman Dr Noel Cawley at the publication of the Teagasc Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2015. Photo: John T Ohle.

“In general the public sector at senior level in Teagasc, that salary situation is out of line with the private sector. It may not be a popular thing to say but if you look at the facts the public sector can’t compete and that is the current reality”.

The agriculture and food development authority have a staffing plan in place for 2015 which will bring permanent staff to 1,025. Around 200 contract staff also employed.

Over the next 12 months Teagasc plan to recruit an extra 75 employees and anticipate around 31 staff will retire - depending on the pension assigned to them.

“In the last year we have been working to a ‘delegation sanction’ pay ceiling of €63.2m which replaced the recruitment embargo and it has given us tremendous flexibility that we’re able to recruit again” said Professor Boyle

“We can replace staff that retire or resign as long as we live within the cap. We can also have some promotions again after eight years” he said.

“Every time we win a project from say the EU we then have to go out and recruit very highly qualified people at post doctorate level. Some are also working in our colleges to cope with the exceptional demand for our college places. We’ve had to increase our contract teaching staff by an additional 70 teachers and they are all on two year contracts.

Teagasc’s income in 2015 was €175m – up €10m on the previous year – excluding net deferred funding for pensions.

Research income increased by €4.3m compared to 2014, with €3.5m of the increase coming from externally funded projects.

Income in the Teagasc Knowledge Transfer Directorate increased by 5.5m compared to 2014. This was made up of an increase of €1.8m in education income and there was a hike of €3.8, in advisory services incomes.

A strategic partnership business model with FRS to deliver a GLAS planning service was also introduced.

Demand for Teagasc educational courses and advisory services also remain high leading to increased levels of activity at facilities nationwide.

“2015 was an extremely busy year for Teagasc in its research, advisory and education functions. That high level of output has continued into the current year, as we work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and other partners in the sector to achieve the objectives of the Food Wise 2025 Strategy for the industry,” said Dr Cawley.

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