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Skillnet Ireland and UCC Launch Specialised Lifelong Learning Programmes for Employees Working in the Dairy Sector

19 Jun 2023
At the Dairy Centre of Excellence launch in UCC are Paul Healy, Chief Executive Skillnet Ireland, Prof John O'Halloran, President of University College Cork, Bridie Corrigan Matthews, Network Director Skillnet, Prof Seamus O’Mahony, Director, UCC Centre of Excellence in Dairy Science, and Prof Paul McSweeney, UCC Vice-President for Learning and Teaching. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Today, University College Cork (UCC) and Taste for Success Skillnet have announced the establishment of new upskilling and talent development learning programmes for professionals in the Dairy sector.

Responding to the evolving needs of the dairy sector, and harnessing the world-class capabilities across the University, UCC is launching Post Graduate Diploma and Master qualifications in Dairy Technology & Innovation. A blended, flexible, part time pathways model for specialised lifelong learning for dairy professionals, will contribute to the demands of industry for highly skilled talent in the sector.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, said; “I am so pleased to be here today to launch these fantastic new courses from UCC and Skillnet Ireland, which will provide lifelong skills and meaningful qualifications for people working in the Dairy sector. Ireland has a long history and internationally renowned reputation when it comes to our excellent dairy produce and it is vital that we continue, as a nation, to meet the needs of industry by providing the capabilities for talented workers to serve, grow and succeed in dairy technology and innovation.”

The learning model, which is highly innovative and allows students to attain stackable qualifications in Diary Technology & Innovation, will support the dairy industry, which is Ireland’s largest indigenous enterprise, worth c.€16bn and providing employment to c.85,0000 people. Th learning pathways, allow employees working in the sector to access these world-class, research-underpinned, post-graduate (NFQ Level 9) qualifications on a blended, flexible, part-time basis.

Seamus O’Mahony, Professor of Dairy Science at UCC said; “In securing a sustainable future for the Irish dairy industry, the imperative to shift the focus away from volume-based expansion to science-based innovation and value-add will require a major investment in education, training and skills development for dairy industry professionals. It is vital that we future proof one of our most important, indigenous industries and skills is a fundamental part of making sure that Ireland remains at the forefront of the international market. This is a strong step in the right direction and we are very pleased to have been able to produce these vital learning courses in partnership with Taste4Success Skillnet and Skillnet Ireland.”

Professor John O’Halloran, President of UCC, said; “University College Cork is very proud of its strong tradition in Dairy Science and the role we have played in contributing highly skilled graduates to Ireland’s largest indigenous industry. Innovation is crucial both for the future of the sector, in our world of climate change and sustainability, and for the education we provide dairy professionals, and this new Centre of Excellence is proof of our commitment to that future.”

Dairy is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, worth about €16bn in economic value across the island and provides employment to about 85,000 people. UCC has a long history in Dairy Science education, research, and training, and is the top University for Dairy Science in Ireland. The Food Science and Nutritional Sciences programmes at UCC, located within the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS), are the main providers of graduates for the dairy sector.

Bridie Corrigan Matthews, Network Director, Taste 4 Success Skillnet, said:

"Collaborating with UCC on this initiative, our shared vision was to create excellence in research-led dairy science education and training programmes in providing access and career development opportunities for those working in the sector, particularly those wishing to move into and grow their career in the sector'. It has been a privilege for Taste4Success Skillnet to work with leading scientists at UCC’s Centre of Excellence in Dairy Science at UCC, and to support these innovative qualifications. We look forward to continuing our work with Professor Seamus O'Mahony and the team at UCC to develop a pipeline of talent for the Irish dairy processing sector."

Introduction of these new industry-led academic programmes, in partnership with Skillnet Ireland consolidates UCC’s leadership role in Dairy Science education, training and research.

School of Food and Nutritional Sciences

School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Room 240 Food Science Building, University College, Cork