Northern Irish Agricultural Qualification shortlisted for ‘Qualification of the Year’ at UK Awarding Body awards ceremony

News Release 
8th October 2015

Northern Irish Agricultural Qualification shortlisted for ‘Qualification of the Year’ at UK Awarding Body awards ceremony

OCN NI are delighted to announce that the Qualification has been shortlisted along with 3 other UK Qualifications and the winner will be announced at an Awards ceremony on 22 October at the Leicester Marriott Hotel. OCN NI Chief Executive Martin Flynn said “We are delighted that one of our Qualifications has been shortlisted for this event. Over 2,400 young farmers from NI successfully gained this qualification and we are extremely proud to be the only Northern Ireland based Awarding Body to be shortlisted for the awards”.

At the beginning of September OCN NI submitted an entry to the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) Annual Awards event, under the category of ‘Qualification of the Year’ for their OCN NI Level 2 Certificate in Agricultural Business Operations.

The Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) Level Two Certificate in Agricultural Business Operations stands out as a great example of how awarding bodies can respond rapidly and effectively to specific industry needs. The qualification was designed in collaboration with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE). Director Dr John Fay OBE said “this qualification while helping farmers to meet one of the eligibility criteria for the Young Farmers’ Payment, it has also provided them with the knowledge and skills to support the management of their farm businesses into the future”

In May 2014, the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill, announced that one of the eligibility criteria for the Young Farmer’s Payment was that applicants must have at least a Level II qualification in agriculture (or a related subject containing at least a farm business management module). The Minister further committed that for those farmers who did not have an appropriate qualification that one would be provided by CAFRE and that farmers would have the opportunity to achieve the qualification by the end of April 2015.

The 21 credit qualification offered two pathways – Crop Production or Livestock Production, covering a range of agricultural subjects from health and safety, farm business management and production, to use of information technology. Support for the qualification was received from; Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ulster Farmers’ Union, Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association and Health and Safety Executive NI.


Additional Information:

The Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) is an awarding organisation that advances education by developing nationally recognised qualifications and recognising the achievements of adults and young people. We are an educational charity and an awarding organisation working with centres such as Further Education Colleges, Private Training Organisations, Voluntary & Community Organisations, Schools, SME’s and Public Sector bodies to provide learners with opportunities to progress into further learning and/or employment. We are a not for profit organisation and reinvest all of our resources back into the development of new qualifications and educational resources.

CAFRE initially estimated that 800 farmers would undertake the qualification in 2014/15. Following a four week application period over 3,500 individuals expressed interest which translated into 2,544 enrolments onto the qualification in September 2014. From this number 2,450 learners successfully completed and were certificated by OCNNI.

The qualification is innovative in the way that OCN NI responded rapidly and effectively to industry demand for qualifications that provide both nationally recognised skills of a high standard and meet specific local needs. The success of the qualification has provided a significant boost to the learning culture within the agricultural industry within Northern Ireland as evidenced by the number of learners wishing to continue and enhance their learning. Most importantly feedback from learners was exceptionally positive with 95% reporting high satisfaction with the qualification*.

OCN NI is now working with CAFRE to develop a level three agriculture qualification linked to a new Business Development Group programme that CAFRE will be delivering. This Level III qualification will allow progression for learners and provide a link to higher level qualifications in agricultural production.

*Source: CAFRE student evaluation

For further information please contact
Matthew McCormick on
Tel: 028 90463990
Mob: 07584329321