Cork Co-operative Marts Graduates John McSweeney, Denis O'Donoghue and Kevin Casey at the Graduation Ceremony for the ICOS Skillnet Mart Managers Programme held in The Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. (Pic: Alf Harvey)

The first graduates have emerged from an intensive new Mart Management Development Programme designed to enhance management and organisational practices in co-operative marts.

Launched at the end of 2018, the programme is aimed at ensuring the continuing availability of skills for the successful operation of marts into the future, including management succession planning.

Managers and next-in-line staff from nine co-operative mart groups took part in the inaugural course delivered by Technological University Dublin in conjunction with ICOS Skillnet, including Cork Marts, who have marts in Fermoy, Cahir, Bandon, Macroom, Skibbereen and Dungarvan.

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. 

Existing skills

Participants build on existing skills and develop new management capabilities in a highly interactive learning environment.

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

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 – providing lectures and information on the relevant standards and regulatory provisions applying to the marts sector.

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.