Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Despite Teagasc recruitment drive long waiting lists remain for green cert courses

Approximately, 4,000 young farmers require places on the adult green cert arising from the education requirements of the young farmers scheme and the national reserve. Photo: Depositphotos
Approximately, 4,000 young farmers require places on the adult green cert arising from the education requirements of the young farmers scheme and the national reserve. Photo: Depositphotos
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Significant waiting lists remain for Teagasc green cert courses as the organisation deals with unprecedented demand in recent years.

According to Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle, approximately, 2,000 young farmers require places on the adult green cert arising from the education requirements of the young farmers scheme and the national reserve.

He said the requirements are to ensure that payments were targeted at trained young farmers with a genuine interest in farming as a career.

The Minister highlighted that it was agreed that the additional temporary resources would be provided to Teagasc to enable it to rapidly expand the number of green certificate places and clear the backlog of applications in the shortest possible timeframe.

In conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Teagasc was approved to appoint 20 new temporary education officers in 2014 and again in mid-2015 on two-year employment contracts.

It enabled Teagasc to dramatically increase enrolments from a typical year of 500 to over 1,500.

However, according to Doyle as Teagasc continued to experience strong demand for the adult green certificate over and above the pre-existing high levels of demand, it was allocated 30 temporary posts in November 2015 bringing the overall number of teaching posts sanctioned to 70.

In addition, he said the Department also approved seven temporary administrative staff for a two-year period to address the huge volume of course administration that arose from the unprecedented demand.

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While a small number of temporary teachers have still to be recruited by Teagasc, most have been hired and are now working on the green cert programme helping to deliver record numbers of enrolments, which are forecasted to top 4,500 for the period 2014 to 2016.

“It is our expectation that the 70 additional posts will substantially clear the backlog of applications for the adult green certificate ensuring that those young farmers who formally applied for a place can be accommodated,” the Minister said.

Contract renewal

However, Minister Doyle also highlighted issues with renewing some of these posts for a further two-year period which has been raised with his Department.

“It is important to note that the conditions attached by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform stipulate that all temporary contracts - 77 in total - must be phased out as their expiration dates arise.

“In addition, under the delegated sanction framework governing staff numbers in Teagasc, there is a prohibition on the establishment of contracts of indefinite duration for temporary staff, which would arise in this instance if the 77 temporary contracts approved to date were renewed for a further two-year period,” he said.

The Minister said Teagasc must remain within its overall pay budget, the flexibility provided by the new arrangements will allow it to fill critical vacancies and to react faster when such vacancies arise in the future.

“I understand some appointments have been made in the education area to meet the current demand for places,” he said.

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