First FRS/Teagasc dairy course graduates

Nearly 90 new workers per year for dairy farms are expected to be provided by FRS Farm Relief Services, through the FRS/Teagasc courses that got under way recently.

The first eight graduates will shortly emerge from a pilot scheme in Cos Kilkenny and Waterford, with a further eight already identified to start the four-week training courses.

FRS CEO Peter Byrne says extending the initiative to their 11 offices in the strong dairy areas could potentially provide 88 dairy farm workers per year.

The initiative can play a major role in finding the additional 2,315 full-time worker equivalents which Teagasc says are needed from now to 2025, to help with the work load on expanding and new dairy farms.

Peter Byrne revealed that FRS Farm Relief Services also expects to attract dairy farm workers from New Zealand, through its new “New Zealand/Ireland Live, Learn and Earn Exchange Programme’ and from Eastern Europe.

Speaking at last week’s Ploughing Championships, he envisaged considerable easing of the labour challenge on dairy farms, by a combination of the new training schemes at the FRS Farm Relief Services offices, plus workers arriving from New Zealand and Eastern Europe.

He envisaged potential to attract 150 to 180 new workers per year, through a whole- industry response to the labour challenge.

He revealed that FRS will shortly aim to place their first eight new dairy course graduates, if possible in full-time jobs on dairy farms, or as part-time workers if they are not available for full-time work.

Improving labour availability for the busy springtime period on dairy farms will be a priority.

There is potential for employees doing only springtime work on dairy farms to earn €1,000-1,500 per month.

The eight current graduates, and another eight who have been identified to start the four-week training, came forward after FRS got together with Teagasc, South East Regional Skills, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and other industry organisations.

In Cos Kilkenny and Waterford, they sought out Social Protection clients from farming backgrounds, including Rural Social Scheme and Farm Assist clients; and people from drystock farms, and rural women interested in part-time work on dairy farms.

The training in milking and other dairy farm tasks takes place on host farms and at the Teagasc Kildalton college.

It is hoped other colleges will get involved when the pilot scheme is extended to other counties.

Peter Byrne said FRS Network’s new “New Zealand Ireland Live, Learn and Earn Exchange Programme’, in conjunction with the New Zealand Dairy Careers organisation, helps Irish students get their professional work experience down under, and also offers placement in Ireland for dairy workers from New Zealand.

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