No wool over Kilkeel apprentice’s eyes!
When 21 year old James Irvine from Kilkeel started his agriculture apprenticeship at Greenmount, he knew it could help him grow his small family farm to the large sheep farm he dreamed of.
Before he started his apprenticeship James’ family used to rent their land to other farmers but James had high ambitions and wanted to develop the family farm to the point where he could make a sustainable living from it.
While studying his agriculture apprenticeship, James worked on Tom Bingham’s dairy farm and made a 120 mile round trip to Greenmount to study. However, this was no problem to James.
As his tutor Kenneth Johnston, Greenmount Campus, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) explained, “James demonstrated exceptional commitment, dedication and a genuine love for his chosen career.
“His work ethic is inspirational as he runs not one but two farms along with his studies. He completed many additional courses during his apprenticeship including a telehandler course, pesticide course and Artificial Insemination (AI) course.”
In recognition of James’s apprenticeship success he was a recent finalist in the annual Department for Employment and Learning’s Apprentice of the Year Awards.
Speaking of his apprenticeship, James said, “I love farming and knew I had a lot to learn if I was to successfully develop our own small family farm. The ApprenticeshipsNI programme allowed me to develop both the theoretical and practical skills needed to do that.”
James has already expanded his own farm to 80 ewes with plans to increase this to 600 ewes. For anyone visiting the Mournes in the future you could well be looking at one of James’s sheep in the fields.
ApprenticeshipsNI is a Department for Employment and Learning programme that offers training to 16 year olds and over across a wide range of apprenticeships.
There are many benefits for an apprentice and employer in taking part in an apprenticeship including apprentices can earn while learning; apprentices work alongside experienced staff and receive off-the-job training specific to their apprenticeship and also gain recognised qualifications.
For more information on the Department for Employment and Learning’s ApprenticeshipNI programme phone 0800 0854 573 or visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsNI
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