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Sunday 19 November 2017

New malt brewing course launched

The growth of the independent brewing industry has been recognised by Carlow IT
The growth of the independent brewing industry has been recognised by Carlow IT

Ken Whelan

The country's Institutes of Technology are expanding their education reach either by offering a range of courses which meet the demand of the mainstream agribusinesses, as well as the growing artisan food and SME sectors.

The growth of the independent brewing industry has been recognised by Carlow IT which will launch its new Malting Brewing and Distilling qualification next month.

The Level-8 course in malt brewing was developed in Carlow because of demand from local companies like O'Hara's Brewery and Walsh Whiskey Distillery which produce craft beers and spirits. As these companies expanded they had to fill their vacancies often by advertising in Scotland for qualified brewers and distillers, Carlow IT deputy registrar and course designer David Ryan told the Farming Independent this week.

This gap in the skills market was identified a few years ago when the FoodWise 2020 research was undertaken and, as many of these niche companies were located in the midlands, it fell to Carlow IT to develop the educational concept.

The design specifications for the course, which were developed in association with Teagasc, has a curriculum which includes yeast biology, malting, brewing discipline and soil studies, Ryan explained.

The three-year brewing course for full-time and part-time students has attracted 50 students.

This local demand factor is also evident in the IT's new degree course in Sustainable Agriculture which also begins next year.

The course was designed following a three-year campaign by farmers, the IFA and local educational interests in the Wexford region. Linking agri-courses to local educational demands is central to the operation of the country's IT network.

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Dr Pat Carney of Tralee IT says the college is still benefiting from the general return to agri-education which followed the economic collapse. "Tralee runs an ag science qualification as well as Level-7 and 8 courses in mechanics and engineering and the college has increased its intake of students to a cohort of 2,500 students at the moment," he explained.

"I would say that enrolments are up again especially on the engineering side. The benefit we got student wise from the economic collapse is still there. And there is plenty of employment out there for our students, especially on the engineering side where the Dairymasters and Keenan's are looking for even more graduates," Dr Carney added

Dr Joanna Gallagher of Letterkenny IT, where a new Ag Science qualification to Level 7 is under way for the past couple of years, said interest this year had been "strong" with the college filling all 32 places on the programme from the first round of applications.

The college is designing an "add on" year of studies which will bring the qualification to Level 8. Terry Twomey of Limerick IT freely admits that the economic crash gave a boost to the number of students interested in taking up the college's two agri-courses - Ag Science and Agri Mechanics and Machinery.

He stressed that the numbers on these two courses were still good with some 40 on the mechanics course and a further 16 taking the science option.

Limerick IT is working with Teagasc at Pallashenry to design an add-on year to the Ag science course. "Student numbers have come back a bit since the improvement in the economy but we were expecting that. Half of our students go back to the home farm after they graduate, with the others going abroad or joining agribusiness companies in the region, he added.

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