In November 2018, the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (RJSA) organised a forum for training providers and other interested stakeholders in the VET sector. The Working together to build the future Queensland agriculture workforce event involved 42 stakeholders across a range of organisations working in the sector, including Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and representatives from Queensland Government departments.
Attendees heard presentations describing the current industry landscape from Alliance members and guest speakers who provided relevant information on:
- Training and workforce initiatives, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries;
- Employment projections for Ag, Jobs Queensland;
- VET Quality Framework and Investment Program, Department of Employment Small Business and Training; and
- Skills Forecast for Ag Related Training Packages, Skills Impact.
Also, two talks gave interesting professional recruitment insights into ‘what employers are looking for’ by Mick Hay of Rimfire Resources and Edwin Cook from Labour Solutions Australia. A summary featuring recent industry-led training projects was delivered by Karen George from the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN), and Claudia Vicary, AgSkilled, showcasing successful initiatives leveraging industry engagement.
Having established context for what is occurring in the sector, its opportunities and challenges, the forum facilitator Rebecca Fing from House Paddock Training and Consulting guided participants through several group discussions to provoke thinking about the potential for increased co-operation between industry and training providers that would improve mutual outcomes for industry, its workforce and the training sector.
Key themes arose from the working group sessions and the RJSA will now act as a broker to develop them into practical measures and/or future pilot projects:
- Greater involvement of farmers in collaboration with RTOs (and technical experts) to design content requirements (their skills & knowledge, currency of practices), and to provide, where possible (especially in remote areas) their locations and equipment to assist training options and alternatives;
- Nominated farmers to become mentors and promoters of training, established industry leaders (as content experts) would ensure increased industry acceptance and garner support for training through their personal endorsement, helping to build trust and better relationships with training providers; and
- Enhancements to the funding model that would provide employer incentives, not just incentives for training providers.
Evaluation forms completed following the event indicated:
- 89 per cent overall satisfaction with the forum, and
- 91 per cent support for a similar, future event
Attendees particularly valued the networking opportunities, the breadth of topics discussed together with the quality of information provided, and the diversity of group discussions. The RJSA intends to organise a similar event later this year.