The award-winning Irish work experience agency Equipeople is to host the 2011 Grow Abroad World Conference, which will take place in Ireland in October.
The annual event was due to be held in Japan but, because of the country's earthquake disaster, it was relocated to Ireland, thanks to the foresight of Caroline Lane, the managing director of Co Laois-based Equipeople.
"Japan has been hit badly with natural disasters and it was too much of a risk to run the conference in Tokyo in October," she said.
"Back in April, I suggested that Ireland could step in and host it instead, and we at Equipeople are delighted to be able to do this for the first time. The conference will take place in the Killeshin Hotel.
"This conference is important to our business and that of similar agricultural work experience agencies and organisations from around the world as it gives representatives the opportunity to network and improve the services for young people who wish to work abroad and learn about different cultures. Exchange programmes are vital to the agricultural industry as a whole."
This year no fewer than 60 delegates will gather for five days from October 17-21. They will represent organisations such as Worldwide Farmers Exchange, Experience International, Bibber International (specialising in the wine industry) and Travel to Farm.
The conference will include a series of talks by guest speakers who all have the same focus -- to develop exchange programmes and to ensure that students gain the best of experiences in their chosen fields in whichever country they visit.
Equipeople has brought 600 young people into Ireland this year to work within the farming and equestrian industries.
Founded in 1995 by Caroline Lane and her husband, Stanley Champ, the company's original aim was to provide quality staff to the horse industry worldwide, but this has since been developed to extend into the agricultural industry. Equipeople now has 30 partner organisations throughout the world, including Norway, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, America and Australia.
Through these partnerships, they assist young people to come to Ireland and experience a different culture, while at the same time gaining an insight into how the Irish equine and agricultural businesses operate. The staff at Equipeople are highly trained individuals, and thus provide the employer with quality employees. They personally interview each applicant to ensure their suitability, and all are visited by Equipeople staff once they settle into their new placements.