Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Michael Bohane from BioPharmachem Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:

Michael Bohane

QA Manager

BioPharmachem Ireland

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Michael Bohane
Be prepared for responsibility and the rewards and problems that come with responsibility. It is very important to be comfortable making decisions and living with them. While it is impossible to be right all of the time the majority of decisions you make have to be correct.
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Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry & Food

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At a Glance... header image

Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry & Food

When we think of Agriculture we automatically think of farming, but careers in this sector are not just confined to farming - they are linked to everything from the clothes we wear to the food we eat and drink.

Horticulture is a significant contributor to the Irish economy. Its is also a wide and varied career area, with occupations ranging from yield control, quality, and the nutritional value of crops, to working on resistance to disease and pests. Careers in horticulture also span the many emerging environmental issues of the modern world.

Forestry careers continue to employ significant numbers in Ireland and the Food and Beverages sector is one of our most important indigenous industries, with Ireland competing successfully at home and abroad.
careers in agriculture horticulture and forestry
Image: allaboutjobs


Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Agriculture header image

The land area of Ireland is 6.9million hectares of which about 4.2 million hectares (64%) is used for agriculture. Beef and milk production accounts for approximately 58% of Irish agricultural output. There are around 139,000 family farms in Ireland.

Agriculture is not just confined to farming - the sector is linked to everything from the clothes we wear (cotton jeans and t-shirts, woollen jumpers and coats, leather shoes and jackets) to the food we eat and drink. When we go on holiday or even pursue our hobbies we often engage the services of people working in the Agriculture Sector.

Tillage Farming
Tillage crop production is about the provision of feedstuffs to the livestock sector and valuable raw materials to industries such as malting, milling, sugar, breakfast cereal and distilling. The crop area in Ireland extends to 379,000 hectares, 9% of farmed land.

Employment connected to tillage farming includes 11,000 growers and a further 15,000 employed in the food processing sector dependent on tillage crops. Crop production of the three main cereals, wheat, oats and barley, amounts to around 2.3 million tonnes annually. Irish cereal yields are among the highest in the world.

Photo: Teagasc Crop student ploughing at Kildalton Agriculture and Horticulture College


Dairy Farming
Dairy is a huge industry in Ireland, production in the industry is forecast to grow by 50% by 2020, from 5.5bn to 7.5bn litres.

Bord Bia Infographic
The business environment for dairy farming is changing rapidly - the removal of milk quotas provides an opportunity for dairy farm businesses to expand. Herd size will increase on many dairy farms over the coming years, requiring an increased level of skill in both the physical and financial management capability of farmers.

The expanding Irish dairy industry can now provide a range of attractive career opportunities that can potentially lead to farm and business ownership.

Those from non-farming backgrounds who have an interest in pursuing a farming career should carefully assess the dairy career opportunities of interest to them.  

The dairy industry wants to attract new, well trained and highly motivated people into the sector at all levels. Increasingly, it is providing significant opportunities for progression upwards from one career role to another.


"The expanding Irish Dairy Industry can now provide a range of attractive career opportunities that can potentially lead to farm and business ownership."

Explore
"Stepping Stones to a Career in Dairy Farming "
TEAGASC, July 2015

Government Labour Reports forecast a decline in the number of people employed in traditional agriculture careers such as farming, but the wider sector offers many new career opportunities such as Food Scientist, Horse Breeder, Environmental Officer/Management and Agricultural Research.

Although the nature of some of the work in this sector can be very physical, it offers a healthy and rewarding lifestyle. As a starting point, you should consider whether you would enjoy the outdoor life and working with nature.

Agri-Business

Agriculture-related businesses include: Supplying farmers - i.e. the manufacture and sales of animal feed, fertiliser, equipment, machinery and even insurance; and the Marketing of farm produce - i.e. the distribution, processing and retailing of agricultural and horticultural products to consumers.

Agri-Tourism

There is a growth in outdoor recreation and it is creating career opportunities for people supplying professional tourist services in rural settings in activities such as horse-riding, fishing, golfing, sailing and hill walking and accommodation. Many farmers are now opening their farms up to tourists. This form of expanded Agri-tourism has potential to offer full and part-time careers.

Further Education Options

QQI Level 5 (Certificate) and Level 6 (Advanced Certificate) major award programmes in agricultural, horticulture, forestry and equine studies are available with Teagasc.

The Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management (Level 7) programme can also be completed with Teagasc, as a progression from the Level 6 Advanced Certificate.

There has been a large increase in the number of applications for Teagasc courses in recent years, driven by a new found confidence in farming and food production. The abolition of the milk quota in April 2015 and the roll out of Food Harvest 2020 will further boost confidence in the sector.

New entrants to commercial farming - advice is to complete a specialised QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture specialising in dairy herd management, dry stock management or crops/mechanisation at agricultural colleges.


The Equine Industry

Horse Racing and Breeding contributes almost €1.8bn annually in direct and stimulated to the Irish economy and employs over 28,900 people, including direct, indirect and secondary employment. Nearly 1.3m people attend race meetings in Ireland each year.

Further Education Options
Teagasc provides high-quality education and training for the equine sectors at both Level 5 and Level 6. The QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horsemanship is offered at Kildalton College.

Subject to adequate demand, a Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Stud Management programme leading to a QQI Level 6 Certificate in Equine Breeding may also be offered.

Ask the Experts ... 
Our Sector Expert Teagasc is the primary provider of further education courses in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, food, and equine studies. Many courses incorporate management practices and the use of technologies on the home farm, with supervised project work and discussion groups.
View Teagasc Courses here
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Horticulture header image

Horticulture is the art and science of cultivating plants. It is an important national industry and it is essential that the commercial horticulture skills base in Ireland is maintained.


Infographic: allaboutjobs

Horticulturists work and conduct research in the fields of plant propagation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic engineering, plant biochemistry, and plant physiology. The work particularly involves fruits, berries, nuts, vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, and turf. Horticulturalists work to improve crop yield, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses.

There are two main career areas in horticulture - Amenity Horticulture and Commercial Horticulture:

Amenity Horticulture

This area focuses on parks and gardens and includes gardening, landscaping, designing and a whole lot more. It starts with the design and construction of recreational areas such as parks, nature reserves, wildlife gardens, and roadside plantings, amongst other designed landscapes.

Courses in Horticulture - part-time and work-based courses for the horticulture sector at  Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

Amenity areas can be public, as with local authority parks, and roadside plantings, so important to wildlife. They can also be private, as in stately homes, apartment complexes and so on.

If you enjoy sport, remember an amenity horticulturist is likely to have designed, constructed and maintained the playing field, tennis court, running track, bowling green or golf course.

Commercial Horticulture

This area is focussed on growing and selling crops for food (the fruit and the vegetables that we eat) or fuel, and also ornamental plants. In the area of food production, the Department of Agriculture reports that growing potatoes and mushrooms are currently the two biggest areas of employment in this sector. The mushroom sector employs 3,500 people directly.

It is also the horticulturist who grows the flowers and pot plants used to decorate our homes and public spaces. Gardening has become a top, active leisure pursuit, and domestic gardeners are demanding new plant types and increased quality. Producing these crops is a very technical business, involving automated systems, controlled using state of the art computer technology, alongside traditional skills.

Commercial horticulture includes floristry and retail horticulture too. Working in retail horticulture outlets is a challenging option and probably more interesting and demanding than any other type of retail work - building effective, eye-catching displays, marketing plants, as well as dealing with people’s enquiries.

Horticulture includes all this and much more. Job prospects are very good in this area as Irish people become more environmentally aware and show a greater interest in their gardens, in growing their own food crops, and in the outdoor world in general.

The horticulture sector's annual value is around €380m. The sector makes an important economic contribution and generates significant ancillary employment in areas such as preparing, packing produce, distribution, retail, garden design and landscaping.

Technology and advances in plant genetic research offer the potential for new products, new production methods and new approaches to the market for horticultural products which will drive growth and opportunities for the sector.

Horticulture is an important national industry and it is essential that the commercial horticultural skills base in Ireland is maintained.

Further Education Options

Teagasc is a key provider of horticulture education. Teagasc has substantially redeveloped its Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture programme offering four main streams:
  • Food Production
  • Nursery Production
  • Landscaping
  • Sports Turf
The QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture is the ideal training recommended for future commercial horticulturists.

Food Wise 2025, the latest strategy report for the industry sector, highlights a need to assist commercialisation and adoption of developing horticultural technology, to facilitate entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities arising from these emerging technologies and the intellectual property associated with them.

Ask the Experts ... 
Our Sector Expert Teagasc is a key provider of horticulture education. Teagasc has substantially redeveloped its Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture programme offering four main streams:
  • Food Production
  • Nursery Production
  • Landscaping
  • Sports Turf
The QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture is the ideal training recommended for future commercial horticulturists.
View Teagasc Courses here
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Forestry header image

Forestry is not just about growing trees - it is the art, science, and practice of managing woodland, forests and plantations. Over 12,000 people are employed in the Irish forestry and forest products sector, which includes growing the forests, looking after them and managing them. It also includes producing and supplying timber, harvesting and haulage of timber, and the processing of the wood products.

Ireland's forestry sector by numbers

Careers in Forestry

From propagators and horticulturalists, to forestry workers and managers, to haulage workers, log buyers, and sawmill managers, there is a wide range of occupations associated with the forestry sector. Not all forestry jobs are outdoors - there are also many associated research and development roles. Career pathways in forestry can be seen from the wood supply chain:

Click to view full size

Forestry jobs can be found with large state organisations such as Coillte as well as with private firms and smaller producers who own woodland areas, or companies involved in timber production or procurement.

Forestry harvesting 

Further Education Options

Progression Routes in Forest Education in Ireland

Progression Routes in Forestry Education in Ireland

Ask the Experts ... 

Our sector expert Forestry Careers Ireland provides a comprehensive guide to forestry education and training on the Grow Your Career in the Forestry Sector page.






Outlook


Ireland is fortunate in that it has one of the most suitable climates in the world for growing trees. With its climate and suitable soils, Ireland can grow many tree species considerably faster than its European neighbours giving Ireland a strong comparative advantage in the growing of wood fibre.

10.5% of Irish land is in forest, an estimated 731,650 hectares, comprised of 75% conifers and 25% broadleaf trees. It is an area that government is committed to increasing. In 2012 there were around 12,000 people directly employed in forestry in Ireland in planting, harvesting, transport and processing of timber. The Government has a forestry trajectory which aims to double this figure over the next 10 years. 

There is a significant potential for wood fuel to displace fossil fuel, particularly in the generation of heat for industrial, commercial, domestic and institutional markets. After wind energy, wood fuels are the largest contributor to renewable energy generation, which is a significant growth area for the future.

Food Wise 2025, the latest industry strategy document reports that forests play an important economic, environmental and social role in Ireland making a significant contribution to the Irish economy.

The Irish sawmilling and board manufacturing sector is competitive internationally and has developed major export markets over recent years, including Britain and France but also much further afield. Demand for all wood products remains strong, further growth is anticipated in the years to come as overseas markets for Irish sawn wood and panel board products continue to expand.
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Food & Beverages header image

Ireland is known all over the world as "The Food Island" and is ideally placed to produce food, particularly grass-based beef and dairy products. The Irish weather, with a high level of rainfall and mild temperatures, provides the ideal conditions for growing high quality grass and grass-based farming systms produce healthy and sustainable foods.

The manufacture of food and drink products is Ireland's most important indigenous industry, the 2017 Update on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drink Sector states that the sector directly employs 56,000 and exports over 11.5 bilion. The sector uses Irish raw materials, is predominantly in Irish ownership and is geographically spread widely across the country.

As well as in production of quality beverages, food and food related products, career opportunities in the sector include technical services and consultancy, research and education.

Careers in Food & Beverages

Since 2009 the Food and Beverage sector has expanded rapidly, increasing exports by 50%. This rapid expansion has created opportunities in a number of employment sectors. In addition to this growth, the sector has changed a great deal over the last 40 years. It is now a very sophisticated industry with the highest standards of quality, cleanliness, automation, packaging and production methods.

These duel trends of growth and innovation have changed the career opportunities available in the sector. Areas in demand include production employees with skillsets that include general skills such as ICT training or specific skills such as de-boning.


Bord Bia Infographic

There are currently 230,000 jobs linked to the agri-food sector, with over 50,000 directly employed in food and beverage processing and a further 85,800 (estimated) employed in primary production, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

New innovations through the national agri-food strategy Food Wise 2025, aim to create an additional 23,000 new jobs in this area.


Bord Bia Infographic

Beverages

The value of Irish food and beverage manufacturing enterprises account for €26 billion of total turnover in the sector. The beverages industry claims to support some 92,000 jobs with many of these in the wider sector including the hospitality industry.  Manufacturing jobs amount to some 3,800.


Bord Bia Infographic


Did you know...
  • Ireland is the second largest supplier of food and drink to the UK and is the biggest net exporter of beef in the EU.
  • Ireland is the largest exporter in Europe of powdered infant milk formula. We supply 10% of the global market despite only having 1% of global Dairy Production.
  • Globably, Ireland's beverage industry is most famous as the birthplace of Guinness, one of the biggest beer brands in the world
  • Whiskey is undergoing a pronounced revival. Ireland is now home to 18 distilleries with plans in motion for 16 more.
  • Following a similar trend is the the craft beer sector, where what was a handful of micro breweries has now expanded to more than one hundred.
  • Leading multinationals in the Food and Beverages sector have a strong presence here including Cadbury, Unilever, Nestle, Northern Foods and Heinz.
  • The world's 50 largest food and beverage multi-nationals includes a number of a number of Irish-owned firms.
  • Indigenous agri-food companies here include: the co-ops, Cuisine deFrance, Glanbia, Kerry Foods, Greencore, Kepak, Fyffes, Carbery, Silver Hill, C&C, Gleesons and Cooley Distillery.




SPECIALITY & ARTISAN Foods  

The artisan or speciality food sector in Ireland is valued at about €706 million. Consumers are developing a taste for a broader range of products utilising more specialised recipes and methods. This changing consumer demand has presented entrepreneurs with great market opportunities, leading to a rise in the number of small food companies.

These companies often have close ties to their local communities, are owner managed and tend to have a strong farming basis, taken collectively the sector produces an immensely diverse range of products.

Food Science

Food science is concerned with all of the technical aspects of food, beginning with harvesting or slaughtering, and ending with its cooking and consumption. It is considered one of the agricultural sciences, and is usually distinguished from the field of nutrition.

Examples of the activities of food scientists include:

  • The development of new food products
  • The design of processes to produce these foods
  • The choice of packaging materials
  • Shelf-life studies
  • Sensory evaluation of the product with trained expert panels or potential consumers
  • Microbiological and chemical testing

Food scientists at universities may study more fundamental phenomena that are directly linked to the production of particular a food product and its properties. Two national research policy areas currently prioritised are Sustainable Food Production and processing, and Food for Health. New innovations such as the partnership between Kerry Group and UCD Research Department represent a major investment in food science for third level graduates.

Despite the optimism for the Food and Beverages Sector reflected in Harvest 2020, companies have recorded difficulties recruiting technical staff.

The National Skills Bulletin 2017 reports skills shortages for the sector including: R&D Scientists; Food technologists; New Product Development Skills; Laboratory Technicians for niche areas; International Sales/Marketing with languages; and Production/Supervisory Management shortages for process control software engineering, up-skilling operatives, and supervisory level staff.

The National agri-food strategy Food Wise 2025 is available here
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