A new pilot programme aimed at tackling labour shortages in the dairy sector has been launched
A Teagasc/FRS pilot scheme to identify and train potential dairy operatives being piloted in KIlkenny and Waterford at present is scheduled to be rolled out nationally in the near future.
IFA national dairy chairman Sean O’Leary said it would help address labour shortages on Irish dairy farms, however more measures are needed to address the issue.
The scheme will offer opportunities for, among others, part-time farmers, women involved in farming, or job seekers to top up their incomes. It also has the potential to be rolled out to other agricultural sectors where labour shortages are also an issue. However, providing work permits for qualified workers will also be part of addressing the issue.
“The scheme will ensure suitable applicants receive some basic training as dairy operatives, especially in the area of milking,” said Mr O'Leary.
Teagasc, Farm Relief Services (FRS), IFA and the Department of Social Protection (DSP) have all committed to encouraging possible candidates to come forward for training.
Training takes place over four weeks, the bulk of which is on farm placements, with four days in Kildalton Agricultural College. Successful applicants, after completing the training, may be employed by FRS or by farmers directly.
“There is real potential here for people who need to top up their incomes through attractive part or full time employment and even a start to a promising career in the vibrant Irish dairy sector,” he said.
Funding for the scheme is being available through the Macra na Feirme Young Farmer Skillnet.
“Addressing the shortage of skilled labour available to dairy farmers is a primary concern for Macra na Feirme and these courses on offer go a long way to tackling this issue. Thanks to the support of Skillnets and Teagasc I believe those who sign up for these courses will find them very beneficial in their careers,” said Macra president James Healy.