In November 2019, the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (RJSA) organised a forum for training providers and other interested stakeholders in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. The event involved over 65 stakeholders across a range of organisations working in the sector, including Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), industry representative bodies and government agencies.
Attendees heard presentations describing the current industry landscape from Alliance members and guest speakers who provided relevant information on:
- RJSA’s highlights during the last year.
- Data on the agriculture industry uptake of vocational education across regions and qualifications.
- Employment projections for agriculture and other relevant projects undertaken by Jobs Queensland.
- As one in three new roles in agriculture will be technology oriented, and 41 per cent of existing roles in Australian agriculture are predicted to be impacted by automation and/or augmentation. The presenters talked about digital capabilities and the work they have done to define a digital capability framework in a recent project completed by KPMG, Skills Impact and supported by all RDC
- Skills for Queensland – Great training for quality jobs strategy. The Department of Employment Small Business and Training talked about what the strategy involves and how will it be implemented.
- Skills Forecast for Ag Related Training Packages, presented by Skills Impact.
- Update on the closure of the QATC.
- An overview of the benefits of VET for schools and industries and highlighted by a QATC case study.
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. A presentation was made by TAFE on the TAFE Rural Support Program and the Rural Centre of Excellence, located in Toowoomba.
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.
Participants were asked to build on the discussions and insights of the VET forum 2018. The first discussion session was focused on two key themes: the barriers of engagement for RTO in delivering training for the sector, and the priorities in training delivery for the industry.
At the end on the day, the group discussed the opportunities available through partnerships with industry, and the value that training can create for industry.
Some of the opportunities mentioned (amongst others) include:
- Greater involvement of farmers, agribusiness experts, consultants and other industry experts 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.
- Enhancements to the funding model that would provide employer incentives, not just incentives for training providers.
Work with businesses to find skill knowledge gaps and train/contextualise training to add value to qualifications, skills sets and micro credentials that address business’s needs.
As a result, the group identified action items for the RJSA who will now act and deliver these actions, such as:
- RJSA to connect or identify networks and provide the connections for industry. Identify and define what the agriculture industry involves, who the key players are, and their roles.
- Encourage government and skills bodies to incentivise business to skill and train current employers.
- Promote good case studies of business successes using VET training and examples of RTO/industry relationships. Also promote good stories that have produces good student’s outcomes
- Use industry networks and industry intelligence to inform RTO’s delivery. Work with industry to determine skills sets or changes to present skills sets, that are needed. Work with industry to identify priority training sector, standards required and advocate for funding.
- Apply for micro-credential pilot that addresses the needs of the industry.
Read the Vocational training in agriculture 2019 forum notes HERE.
Evaluation forms completed by some of the attendees following the event indicated:
- An average score of 8.3 satisfaction with the forum (out of 10 maximum score) (only one respondent neutral)
- An average score of 8.3 of the extent of support for a similar, future event (out of 10 maximum score) with only one respondent scoring below 7.
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 again next year.