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Minister Harris opens Aleen Cust Library at Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co. Galway

Minister Harris opens Aleen Cust Library at Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co. Galway

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today attended the opening of the Aleen Cust Library at Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co. Galway.

Speaking today in Mountbellew, a campus of Atlantic Technological University, Galway, Minister Harris said:

“I am pleased to be here at Mountbellew Agricultural College for the opening of the Aleen Cust Library.

“People like Aleen Cust made a real difference and I think it’s fitting we are paying tribute to her today with the opening of this library. She was an inspiration for a generation and defied all the odds by pursuing the career she had chosen.

“As Minister for Further and Higher Education I want to make sure that you don’t have to defy the odds to pursue the career you want and that there are no barriers towards any educational pathways.

“People like Aleen Cust were inspirational and with her memory in mind I am committed to offering training options within the agricultural sector and provide programmes that will help create the next generation of farmers, veterinarians and horticulturists.”

Up until recently there were only two apprenticeship programmes under the family Agriculture and Horticulture open for registrations: Arboriculture & Sportsturf Management. On 7th August 2023, Minister Harris announced the launch of 3 additional apprenticeships in the Agriculture and Horticulture sector – Farm Manager, Farm Technician, and Horticulture. These brought the total number of apprenticeships available in the sector to five.

Minister Harris said:

“Expanding the number of apprenticeship programmes is key to developing careers in agriculture. I am delighted there has already been a good uptake from farming employers in this area to date and I intend to do more to drive the number of available apprenticeships while also making sure that apprenticeships in general are perceived as being attractive pathways for our young people.

“I was delighted to see that the first female arboriculture apprentice registered in July this year and I want to encourage anyone with an interest in these areas, male or female to look at the opportunities available for training and upskilling available in agriculture and horticulture. I also want to remind everyone about the gender based bursary that is available to employers.”

The gender based bursary is in addition to the government supports that apprenticeship employers receive through the craft training allowance and the employer grant. So if you are an employer in this area, you could receive an additional €2,666 if you take on a female apprentice.

Mountbellew Agriculture College Principal Edna Curley said:

“We are delighted to welcome Minister Harris here today, he has always been a great supporter of further and higher education. With the opening of our new library, we look forward to keeping the Aleen Cust story alive for current and future learners.”

These agricultural and horticultural apprenticeships provide a real and substantive career pathway for school leavers, those already working in the sector and looking to upskill, or those changing careers.


Apprenticeship programmes under the Agriculture and Horticulture family

  • Arboriculture Apprenticeship

The Arboriculture Apprenticeship is a Level 6 apprenticeship for those interested in pursuing a career in arboriculture. Subjects include identification, care and management of trees and health and safety and conservation legislation. The off-the-job training is provided by Petersburg Outdoor Education Centre, which operates under GRETB (Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board).

  • Sportsturf Management Apprenticeship

The Sportsturf Management Apprenticeship is a Level 6 apprenticeship. It launched earlier this year for those interested in carrying out core maintenance tasks on sports turf facilities such as golf courses, sports pitches, racecourses, training gallops, bowling greens, pitch and putt clubs and cricket clubs, tennis courts, and parks/amenity areas. In Year 1, off-the-job training for the apprenticeship will be provided in the Teagasc premises, Kildalton College, Kilkenny.

  • Farm Manager Apprenticeship

The Farm Manager Apprenticeship (Level 7) is for anyone who wishes to pursue a managerial career in the agricultural sector or existing personnel employed on farms to progress with their existing educational qualifications. It will initially be available through the Teagasc Kildalton College, Piltown, Kilkenny.

  • Farm Technician Apprenticeship

The Farm Technician Apprenticeship (Level 6) will provide individuals with the knowledge and technical skills required to operate within Irish farming systems. Successful completion of the Farm Technician Apprenticeship will see individuals gain skills in daily operations, compliance with industry standards and regulatory measures. The Farm Technician Apprenticeship will be available in Teagasc Clonakilty College, Cork and Teagasc Ballyhaise College Cavan.

  • Horticulture Apprenticeship

The Horticulture Apprenticeship (Level 6) is available through the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. The horticultural industry spans nursery stock production, parks and garden maintenance, fruit production, vegetable production, landscape construction and garden centre operations. The Horticulture Apprenticeship will equip apprentices with the knowledge, skills and competence to work in their chosen field of horticulture.

  • Stud Farm Management Apprenticeship

There is also an apprenticeship in Stud Farm Management in development. It is due to launch in 2024.

Apprenticeship Population

As of September 2023, the following population figures are recorded for the two apprenticeship programmes under the Agriculture and Horticulture family that were active before August 2023:

Apprenticeship PopulationFemaleMaleTotal
Sportsturf Management02525

As of September 2023, the following population and registration figures are recorded for the three apprenticeship programmes under the Agriculture and Horticulture family that were announced in August 2023:

Apprenticeship Population and RegistrationsFemaleMaleTotal
Farm Manager022
Farm Technician022