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Accessible ag training key to strong industry

August 2, 2020

PROVIDING accessible and high-quality agricultural education in South Australia is essential to ensure agricultural businesses continue to adapt and thrive in an everchanging industry.

Livestock SA welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement last month that fees for agriculture degrees will be cut by 62 per cent in 2021 to encourage more students into the sector.

This university fee reform will help develop skills in the industry and support regional and remote businesses.

Livestock SA also believes the importance of supporting agricultural vocational education and training (VET) in SA needs to be recognised by the State Government.

TAFE courses such as the Certificate III in Agriculture and the Certificate IV in Agribusiness are important education pathways which provide hands-on training.

These courses need to be supported to ensure students graduate with the skills and knowledge required to support, expand, and develop the agricultural industry in SA.

There is a need for flexible training pathways for agricultural VET qualifications in the state, particularly through schools, as many are influenced by the structure of school curriculum.

Course contact hours and travel to on-campus locations can also deter producers and their staff from upskilling.

With shearing, wool handling and wool classing training now being presented by Shearing Contractors Association of Australia, this will provide more flexibility, ensure content is relevant to the needs of the industry and make training more accessible to all regions.

Increasing accessibility to education to upskill and develop knowledge and understanding of agriculture and agribusiness will ensure staff and businesses continue to develop and adapt to industry changes.

Implementing a skills passport system, which outlines a person’s skills in technical areas and highlights qualifications obtained, would allow for better recognition and transfer of skills in rural industries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of food security and the agricultural industry as a whole.

As overseas and some interstate professionals are unable to enter the state due to restrictions, this has resulted in a shortage of skilled employees in the agricultural sector.

The agriculture industry can offer job stability and unique career opportunities to those who want to become involved.

Upskilling and retaining current staff and training new people entering the agricultural industry will be particularly important moving forward to ensure the industry is supported.

Livestock SA has also recently opened its 2020 Producer Priorities survey to help understand the views of producers on issues such as access to training and workforce support for the future.

It only takes five minutes to complete and will help Livestock SA better advocate for producers and develop policy and submissions on behalf of producers.

The survey can be accessed on the Livestock SA website.

ANDREW CURTIS, Chief Executive Officer, Livestock SA