A "train the trainer" course in rural entrepreneurship has been launched at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). The launch took place as part of an international gathering of the Rural Tourism International Training Network in Athlone.
The initiative was developed by a team of partners including AIT and Cavan-Monaghan Leader in Ireland, as well as third level institutions and rural development organisations from across Europe.
The project is supported by the Leonardo da Vinci Partnership programme and includes partners from Bulgaria, Germany, Netherlands and Romania.
This module provides a vocational education training which embodies the competences of rural entrepreneurship and establishes clear guidelines on the competences of an effective rural entrepreneur trainer.
AIT President, Professor Ciarán " Catháin said: "At a time when we hear so much about the challenges facing our rural communities, here is an initiative that adopts a positive stance on behalf of rural entrepreneurs, and particularly those operating in the tourism sector."
He continued: "At the heart of this train the trainer module is a recognition of the needs of rural entrepreneurs for short, focused training programmes to develop the knowledge, capabilities and skills of their staff. By equipping rural entrepreneurs to offer training to their own local communities it invokes a powerful model of peer-to-peer learning.
" Such an approach is cognisant of the learning which people do everyday in their jobs and builds on that experiential process. Of course, it also offers new opportunities for businesses that are already operating in the training and education space.
John Toland, Project Coordinator of Cavan-Monaghan Leader, noted that the involvement of Leonardo in this project was vital.
He explained "how unique it was for the partners from across the EU to defend their training module in front of an academic panel in Athlone Institute of Technology. The partners have worked together as a team and are focused on building upon this partnership for the benefit of all involved," he said.
Mary Mullen, Chairperson of Cavan-Monaghan Leader, acknowledged the support provided through the Irish National Leonardo Office in Léargas.
She said that: "The development of this training will provide additional opportunities for successful rural entrepreneurs to become trainers" and wished the partners further success with the project.