Robin Hancock, from Broughshane in Co Antrim, is one of the first graduates of a new milking machinery technician’s course that’s been run at Reaseheath College in Cheshire.
The MEA (Milking Equipment Association) recently teamed up with Reaseheath College in Cheshire and Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, to establish an industry-wide training programme – Parlour Safe – that’ll give dairy farmers confidence in the ability of the parlour professional on their farm.
“The objective of the Parlour Safe scheme is to provide a common means of benchmarking and monitoring for assessing the competence of technicians and others employed within the milking equipment sector,” says Robin.
“It’s an excellent way of ensuring that farmers know who is ensuring their dairy equipment is working efficiently and is correctly maintained by someone with a recognised technical qualification.”
Robin’s been in the industry for 32 years, so going back to college was quite a challenge. He works for DeLaval in Ireland and the UK, providing technical support for the company’s dealer network.
“I wanted to set an example, and ensure farmers were getting value for money when they used a parlour technician. There hasn’t been a recognised qualification before – this is completely new – and I wanted to be one of the leaders.
“You can always learn more, and meeting other technicians as I completed the course showed me that we are all facing the same challenges. It was great to be able to share experiences.
“I think it’s important to develop professionally and demonstrate to your customers that you’re proactive and willing to learn,” he says. “This course allowed me to benchmark my skills against other professionals, and to improve my knowledge of what is a fast-changing industry.”
The scheme acknowledges the varying levels of knowledge and experience within the industry, so has devised four categories of qualification, each one having specific pre-requisites and offering even those most experienced an opportunity to learn and share information.
Category 1 involves self-registration on line, Category 2 is the standard qualification, Category 3 advanced and Category 4 Master.