Agriculture is WA’s second major export industry and provides employment for more than 30,000 Western Australians.
A significant gap exists between skills in the agricultural industry and the skills required to capitalise on current and future opportunities, with graduates from higher education and training programs in short supply.
This has had a negative impact on the sector which is facing issues such as an ageing workforce, lack of agricultural education and training pathways and defined career paths, low levels of post-secondary education, changing technology and the need for workers to up-skill as these changes occur.
New training programs delivered in the Wheatbelt are boosting agricultural skills development in Western Australia.
This is in response to a need for graduates from higher education and training programs with the knowledge and capacity to operate effectively in an increasingly technological workplace.
The Western Australian Government has recognised these issues and has collaborated with education and training providers to deliver more meaningful pathways to higher education in agriculture.
To support agricultural skills development, strategic partnerships are being forged with leading education and training providers, as well as with industry.
These partnerships have resulted in the development and delivery of diploma and degree level training, as well as a range of agricultural skills sets and industry driven short courses.
Through programs, partnerships and increased training opportunities the perception around agriculture and agribusiness careers is improving, while ensuring industry relevant training is available to help meet the demand for skilled workers who have the knowledge and technical expertise.
With increased interest in, and the expansion of, new technologies in the sector short course programs provide the ideal environment for agricultural workers to build on existing skills, while also providing opportunities for those embarking on a new path to open doors to exciting career prospects.
Laptop computers, tablets and smartphones are fast becoming standard tools of the trade for the modern farmer, leading to an increase in individuals learning new skills through short course programs on unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) technology, harvest operations support and broadacre precision farming techniques.
With a continued focus on the future of Australian agriculture rural productivity is set to improve with the development of a skilled rural workforce through well defined education, training and employment pathways.
Our agriculture industry offers the State an opportunity to further diversify the economy and create Western Australian jobs.
Article kindly provided by Muresk Institute.