Demand for Teagasc courses must be met insists Macra
Macra have called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to give the green light to Teagasc plans to cope with the explosion in demand for distance learning and part-time courses.
In the last few years, demand for these courses has almost quadrupled to a projected 1,300 applicants this year. In addition, part-time education has grown from 150 to a projected 400 places for the coming academic year.
In an attempt to cater for demand, the board of an already stretched Teagasc has sought sanction for an additional 32 staff to be recruited on fixed-term contracts, with the promise that any new staff costs would be covered by participant fees.
However, time is running out for Teagasc to recruit and orientate these staff to have them ready to start in September 2014.
Macra national president Kieran O'Dowd said that this is an ideal opportunity for the Minister to deliver practical support for young farmers and, thus, facilitate greater generational renewal.
However, he strongly cautioned against any move to lower the standard of agricultural education through shortening or diluting the current curriculum.