Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Huge range of courses open to aspiring farmers

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

With the Central Applications Office (CAO) deadline looming next month, the majority of Leaving Certificate students will already be planning what courses they are likely to pursue next year.

Most will make their decision with the help of parents, other family members and guidance teachers in order to ensure that they are well informed.

The first step in the decision-making process is what level of course to embark on. For students interested in a career in agriculture, there are numerous courses available that are approved by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), as well as through the CAO college system.

Teagasc runs FETAC-level courses that are suitable for people who want to start a career in agriculture but do not wish to complete a higher-level course. FETAC-accredited courses are designed to be suitable for future farmers and for people seeking employment on farms.

Teagasc offers FETAC courses at several levels and the Certificate in Agriculture comes in at Level 5. Offered at six agricultural colleges -- Ballyhaise, Clonakilty, Gurteen, Kildalton, Mountbellew and Pallaskenry -- the course has no minimum educational entry requirement but those who have completed the Leaving Certificate are likely to benefit most from the course.

Students must be 17 years of age on January 1 following entry to the course and applications should be made by June 1 directly to the college of choice.

The course consists of 25 weeks of coursework at a college and 12 weeks on an approved training farm.

At the end of the course, graduates can progress to an Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (or Advanced Certificate specialisms), transfer to year two of the Higher Certificate in Agriculture at an Institute of Technology (IT) or transfer to linked courses at Institutes of Technology.

Also Read

The Advanced Certificate in Agriculture is a FETAC Level 6 course that is also offered at the six agricultural colleges mentioned above but it is also offered on a part-time basis at some local Teagasc training centres.

This course takes 15 months and consists of a combination of on-farm practical training, coursework delivered at local centres and on farms, and block-release coursework at the college.

During the course, students operate their home farm to a farm development plan in conjunction with the Teagasc tutors, as well as carrying out specific projects.

Students who are awarded the FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture will meet the training requirement for Stamp Duty Exemption under the current tax rules.

For students who decide to continue their studies, those with a merit or distinction can apply directly to Cork, Waterford or Dundalk ITs for direct entry to Year 2 of the Higher Certificate in Agriculture.

Some colleges offer specialist courses at Level 6 and these include Advanced Certificates in dairy herd management, dry stock management, farm management, agricultural mechanisation, and machinery and crop management.

The dairy herd management course takes place in Ballyhaise, Clonakilty and Kildalton. Students spend 20 weeks on coursework in the college and complete a 12-week practical training period on an approved training host farm.

While most students complete this in Ireland, there are opportunities for completing the practical training period in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

The drystock course is offered in Gurteen, while the farm management course is offered through master farmers and Clonakilty College.

Pallaskenry College offers the agricultural mechanisation course, which lasts 16 weeks and includes work placements at garages, dealerships, fabricators, contractors and, in some cases, work abroad.

The machinery and crop management course takes place at Kildalton and includes 12 weeks of practical training from August to November, followed by 20 weeks of coursework at Kildalton and Waterford Institute of Technology from late November to late May.

Depending on their specialist area, students who hold Advanced Certificates can move on to degree courses in Waterford IT, Cork IT and IT Tralee.

Irish Independent