Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Apprentice board signs off on massive contribution to farm education

Farming Independent

The Farm Apprenticeship Board (FAB) has announced that it has ceased all operations.

The move brings to a close a crucial chapter in the development of modern farm management training and farm education.

FAB was involved in farm management training from 1964 to 2002 and provided a route into the industry for thousands of young farmers over the four decades.

Set up by Macra in 1964, FAB’s primary aim was to provide vocational training for young farmers and this was delivered through the Farm Apprenticeship Scheme.

With financial and other support provided by the Department of Agriculture and subsequently by ACOT and laterally Teagasc, the board went on to develop the Trainee Farmer Scheme for farm inheritors in the early 1970s.

Training and upskilling of ‘master farmers’ became an integral part of the board’s operations as its remit grew.

The 1990s saw massive expansion of numbers in the FAB training programme with up to 350 apprentices in training per year.

However, the rise of the Celtic Tiger and the downturn in farming as a career for young people undermined FAB’s recruitment base and the training programme was integrated into Teagasc in 2002.

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While FAB has not been directly involved in agricultural training since 2002, a bursary scheme was set up aimed at supporting young people following a career in agriculture. Under the bursary scheme, from 2005 to 2015, FAB awarded 177 bursaries to the value of over €200,000.

FAB chairman Seamus Phelan, said the board was proud of its achievements in the farm sector over the decades, and latterly of the opportunities that the bursary scheme had provided.

He pointed out that the bursary had supported 121 young dairy farmers travel and get work experience in New Zealand.

“This has helped establish a culture of travel and further training among young agriculturalists,” he said.

“The bursary scheme also provided funding to 27 young people to get machinery and tillage experience in the USA. Funding for further training and education (mainly at third level) was granted to 24 other candidates,” Mr Phelan said.

FAB made a donation of remaining funds to Vita, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) involved in agricultural development work in rural East Africa.

Mr Phelan thanked the many people and agencies over the almost 40 years of providing agricultural training in Ireland, saying that the board would not have been able to function without their help and support.

He also thanked the students who participated in the training and the master farmer families who opened their homes and businesses to many apprentices over the years.

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