New schemes and tax breaks sees spike in demand for farm courses
Teagasc has received approval from the Department of Agriculture to employ more staff to address a huge waiting list for access to Green Cert courses.
At present, Teagasc says there are about 4,000 adults on a waiting list for entry to the farming education programme.
The Department has said it has been working closely with Teagasc to resolve staffing issues in relation to the adult Green Cert arising from the introduction of the Young Farmers Scheme and National Reserve in 2015, which required successful applicants to complete a FETAC level 6 (Green Cert) or its equivalent in order to qualify for payment.
Green Cert courses are also popular amongst those wishing to avail of significant tax breaks when inheriting agricultural land. An agricultural qualification (e.g. the Green Cert, Ag Science degree ) is one criteria which individuals can avail of 90% Agricultural Relief on Capital Acquisitions Tax.
As Teagasc did not have sufficient capacity to deal with the surge in applications for the Green Cert, it was agreed that additional temporary resources would be provided to rapidly expand the number of Green Cert places.
In conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Teagasc was approved to appoint 70 temporary education officers in the period 2014 to 2016 on two year contracts of employment; 7 temporary administrators were also approved in 2015 for a two year period to address the huge volume of course administration that arose from the unprecedented demand.
The additional resources helped Teagasc to enrol 4,000 adult learners since late 2014.
As Teagasc continue to experience strong demand for the Green Cert, the Minster for Agriculture Michael Creed said this week that he understand that they are actively considering a range of resource options to address projected demand on a phased basis from 2017 to 2019.