Graduate Development Programme - Diploma in Leadership for the Agri Food Sector

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Graduate training is a vital part of the development of young professionals for the modern workplace. Many sectors have well established graduate training programmes. While some of the larger food companies have dedicated graduate training programmes, SMEs in Ireland have limited scope to develop sectorally-relevant graduate training programmes that meet the developmental needs of young graduates entering this sector. In response to this, Macra Agricultural Skillnet and UCC have collaborated to offer an exceptional, significantly subsidised graduate programme. This agri-food specific graduate development programme which leads to a level 7, Diploma in Leadership for the Agri-Food Sector offers a valuable bridge between University and working life and will provide relevant business, management, leadership and professional development skills to young graduates in SME companies, without burdening the companies with the expense of developing an in-house programme.

This programme is designed to meet the management and leadership development needs of young agri- food graduates in the first three years of their working life. Alongside the core technical business skills and best practice tools, the programme will equip participants with motivation and coaching skills that will enhance their professional identity and capability. As a result of this programme, participants will be able to embrace new challenges within their organisation and help to grow and have a lasting impact on their company in this fast-paced industry.

Programme Outline

The Programme design facilitates individuals who wish to study on a part-time basis and integrate their studies with their careers. Participants will attend ten two-day interactive workshops which will be held  at venues around the country to facilitate the geographical nature of the participants. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, the first five modules will be delivered online. The other modules will be delivered either face to face or virtually, Covid 19 restrictions depending.

An in-company project is undertaken by each student which enables course participants to gain an in-depth appreciation of a topic of their choice within their company. In addition, the in-company project affords each participant an opportunity to apply, test and integrate the theories, concepts and frameworks presented throughout the whole course. The in-company project will be based on research conducted in the participant’s company, or within the market served by the company, or with stakeholders relevant to the participant’s company. Participants will be mentored by FITU and also by an in-company mentor in the development and implementation of the project. In addition, participants will be visited in their place of work to help maximise the outcomes and impact of their project and its relevance to their company.

Who should attend?

  • Graduates who are working in an SME agri-food company and have the ambition and motivation to develop their core management
  • Graduates of Food Science, Agriculture or related disciplines who have graduated in the last three to five years,
  • For applicants without a Level 8 Degree, prior experiential learning and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) will be taken into

Core Modules

1. Introduction to Management

  • Different management styles & structures
  • Models of management in successful agri-food businesses
  • Own management/leadership style evolution, how may vary with situation

2. Performance Management

  • Models for Performance measurement
  • Understanding and harnessing the varying performance drivers in people
  • Toolkit for getting the best out of both oneself & individuals; managing conflict

3. Business Planning

  • From Mission Statement to Business plan
  • Defining steps to finalised business plan, from feasibility to product/service launch
  • Swot analysis; KPI selection for measuring actuals

4. Time Management

  • Principles of effective Time Management
  • Toolkit for Prioritising work, delegation, ranking, scheduling
  • Building awareness of own daily pattern of energy levels and working around same

5. Project Management & Team working

  • Project frameworks
  • Project planning, implementation, follow up
  • Behaviour in teams, team building, getting the best from your team


  • Introduction to Six Sigma Lean methodology
  • Practical tools to help ease embedding of Lean in organisation

7. Communication & Presentation skills

  • Effective communication skills, learning to read non-verbal communication
  • Effective influencing
  • Keys to successful presentations

8. Decision Making and Critical Thinking

  • Main Decision making models explained, their optimal usage
  • How personal & group think impacts decision making
  • Critical thinking skills, to aid effective decision making

9. Finance for Non Financial Managers

  • Basics of accounting : P&L, Balance sheet, Cashflow
  • Budgets, forecasts, actuals reporting
  • Product costing, pricing, receivables and debt management

10. Innovation, Sales & Marketing

  • What is Innovation, how to nurture it in oneself & others
  • Brainstorming, creativity, idea generation
  • Effective selling, negotiating, making a pitch


The brochure for the 2020/2021 academic year is available here:Graduate Development Programme Brochure 2020

Cost: The net cost to the company is €4,250 per student, payable in two instalments in September 2020 and January 2021. Places are limited to a maximum number of twenty.


Further information on this programme is available at:

Funding Acknowledgment: Macra Agricultural Skillnet is co-funded by Skillnet Ireland and member companies. Skillnet Ireland is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills; See Macra. ie/skillnet

For further information please contact:

Deirdre Hilliard

Food Industry Training Unit

School of Food and Nutritional Sciences

College of Science, Engineering and Food Science University College Cork, Ireland

Tel. +353 21 490 3273 Mob: +353 86 383 0011


FITU, UCC and Macra Logo

Food Industry Training Unit

University College Cork , Western Road, Cork