Teagasc's 'very low' €33,000 starting salaries must be increased - new Chairman
The new Chairman of Teagasc, Liam Herlihy has said that the starting salaries for Teagasc staff are "very low" and must be improved.
"We are facing severe challenges in recruiting and retaining high calibre staff. We don’t want an open cheque book to recruit anyone at any figure, but the issue we have is particular area is the area of very low starting salaries which we are obliged to offer young, highly-qualified researchers in particular.
"I believe a slight tweaking of that entry level, through recognition of work experience and qualifications would be an enormous advantage to us."
Teagasc starting salaries for a technician is €28,787; a research officer starts on €33,387; an agricultural development officer (ie teacher or adviser) starts on €33,387 as do technologists; while PhD researchers start on €37,222.
The current pay cap, he said, that is there is an impediment and suggested that it could be tweaked without creating any issue with unions or management.
Teagasc, he said is globally recognised as an outstanding agriculture research and advisory entity, but he said the organisation is only as good as the people there to lead it.
"We must recruit the brightest and best and we can’t retain all of them but we must have young advisors who can communicate with young farmers.
"They are the future of Teagasc and the young farmer is the future of farming," he said.
Herlihy was speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture this week, where he detailed the staffing structure of the organisation.
It has 1,200 full-time staff, including 240 advisory personnel, 87 are assigned to dairy farmers and 131 are to drystock and the environment and 11 to tillage farmers.
Farming without attracting young highly qualified people is going nowhere. Education is at the hub of what teagasc is and the hub of the future.
He also said that the organisation needs to recruit contact teaching staff to deal with the demand for agricultural education, but said that appropriate funding needs to be in place to do that.