Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) and the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (RJSA) sponsored and contributed to the National Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Conference hosted by Queensland Agricultural Teachers Association (QATA) on 8 – 12 January 2023 in Toowoomba. The theme for the conference was Creators & Innovators, which included a series of workshops and industry tours showcasing contemporary agriculture across the region.
The four-day event was well attended with teachers from all states and territories as well as New Zealand. QFF’s CEO Jo Sheppard was part of the industry forum called ‘Profitability and People’ facilitated by Pip Courtney from ABC Landline. Jo was also a guest speaker at the conference dinner where she talked about the opportunities and future of the agriculture sector and the work that QFF is doing. One of the key messages Jo shared was that the profitability of agriculture businesses in our global world is vitally dependent on being able to access the right people with the right training and the right attitude. One cannot exist without the other.
QFF’s Industry Skills Advisor Rod Morris facilitated a number of workshops that focused on improving future outcomes for Agriculture Vocational Education and Training (VET) in schools. This was delivered in collaboration with Steve Harrison from TASSAL, Colette Williams – Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) Officer for North Queensland, and Andrew Horgan from Skills Insight.
The workshops provided a great opportunity to see and hear what is happening and to understand issues and opportunities of the use of vocational education in schools, especially in other states.
At the workshops, teachers had the opportunity to give feedback on what they saw as the barriers to effective VET outcomes. Common themes of challenges emerged including:
- lack of industry support and access to work placements
- lack of commitment and communication from the leadership levels at schools about available programs and opportunities
- the extra paperwork and compliance that is placed on schools and teachers using VET training
- limited access to qualified trainers
- time constraints to include VET training as part of the school curriculum
- lack of access to suitable training facilities and resources.
As an industry that values experience in the workplace as much, if not more, than training, industry support and access to work placements is a challenge the agricultural sector needs to address.
If you are interested in providing work placements for school students, please email us Kym Wessling at firstname.lastname@example.org.