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Michael Spellman, President, ICOS

A significant new Mart Management Development Programme has been established to enhance management and organisational practices in co-operative marts and to ensure the continuing availability of skills for the successful operation of marts into the future, including management succession planning.  The programme is being delivered by Technological University Dublin at its Tallaght campus and also in Portlaoise in conjunction with ICOS Skillnet – the learning and development division of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society).

The new programme requires participants to engage in an intensive five day immersion programme of lectures, case studies and workshops across 12 modules ranging from co-operative governance, finance and environmental subjects through to employment legislation, customer relationship management, data protection, media awareness and marketing. Participants build on existing skills and develop new management capabilities in a highly interactive learning environment.  Group work and assignments completed by each participant, are a compulsory part of the course and facilitate the application of theory and practice to management issues.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Property Services Regulatory Authority are also participating  by providing lectures and information on the relevant standards and regulatory provisions applying to the marts sector.

Managers and next-in-line staff from nine co-operative mart groups are currently taking part in the inaugural course including Aurivo Marts,
Athenry Mart, Central Auctions, Clare Marts, Cork Marts, Mid-Tipp Mart,
Roscommon Marts, Waterford Ross Mart and Wexford Farmers Co-op Mart.

The programme was developed through 2018 by a working group established from within the marts sector and TU Dublin won a competitive tender to provide the course.

ICOS Skillnet is co-funded by Skillnet Ireland and member companies. The overall Skillnet Ireland organisation is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills. The development cost of the new programme was co-funded by Skillnet Ireland (80%) through the Future Skills Programme. The remaining 20% was funded
by the co-op sector.

Michael Spellman, President of ICOS said, “We are already fortunate to have a very dedicated and professional cohort of executives in the leadership of our co-operative marts. These are farmer owned and controlled businesses which exist for the mutual benefit of the livestock farming community. Co-operative marts are increasingly sophisticated operations requiring a very solid understanding of business management practices, organisational management, technology and regulatory compliance across a wide range of parameters. In turn, they promote competition in the trade of livestock and they contribute to regional economic well being through the sales that they enable and the services that they provide.

“Our marts also operate in a very competitive and challenging climate and, in that context, it is essential that they have an eye to the future on management and organisational capabilities that they must promote to ensure continuity and success on a progressive and forward looking basis. I’m delighted to welcome the new management development programme which has been created from within our own industry together with ICOS Skillnet and the expertise of TU Dublin. I’m confident that this will be of benefit to the staff of the nine marts participating in the inaugural course and of even further benefit to the marts sector in the years ahead.”

ICOS (the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) represents over 130
co-operatives in Ireland – including the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts – whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €14 billion, with some 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas.