Just when we thought things were improving, I hear that Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising in Ireland. This is not good news, especially as we head into the festive season. I really hope that we don’t go down the road of more restrictions and, God forbid, another lockdown.
I fear that these high numbers could threaten trade shows and demo days planned for 2022.
Having said that, the Service Dealer Conference and Awards will be going ahead, as planned, this Thursday (25th November) at the Double Tree by Hilton Oxford Belfry. I will be there and am looking forward to meeting everyone attending. I hope that there will be some Irish dealers attending as well. The theme of the conference is ‘Smart Working’, an appropriate theme, considering the times we are living in.
Service Dealer owner, Duncan Murray-Clarke, explained, “Smart Working is a concept that we know many dealers will have adopted over these past 18 months. At the conference, our expert speakers will fully expand on the idea, opening the discussion out for the benefit of all”. This rings true as many businesses had to quickly adapt. Many opted for some of their staff to work from home and had to resort to selling equipment online, in order to survive. On foot of the recent Covid-19 figures, it looks like this could be happening again.
The conference will include top class speakers as well as having breakout sessions and round table discussions. Speakers include the return of Ed Gillespie, the popular futurist speaker as well as award winning TedX speaker, Teresa Heath-Waring and Sam Watson-Jones, the founder of Small Robot Company. Sam will be exploring The Fourth Agricultural Revolution – which he believes is coming sooner than you think! I will be especially looking forward to hearing what Sam has to say about that.
The Awards will take place on the evening of the conference. This year, in particular, will recognise the extra efforts dealerships and their staff have made during the past 18 months of the pandemic. A special one-off award, called, The Extra-Mile Award, will be given to a dealership that may, for example, have helped people within their community.
It was a good news story recently when it was announced that apprenticeships will be included on the CAO portal for the first time. Apprenticeships are often perceived as the poor alternative to going to university. Students will now be able to access information on national apprenticeships as well as the courses available in higher education. This should make it easier for students, who want to make a career as a mechanic or technician in the agricultural machinery sector, to get the information they need, before applying for a course. Our industry needs more skilled people in the workforce and there is still a shortage of qualified personnel, particularly mechanics and technicians. Attracting and holding onto skilled staff is still a big challenge that our industry faces.