The 2023 National Association of Agricultural Educators conference was held in Toowoomba at the University of Southern Queensland campus this week bringing together ag teachers from across Australia. QFF was very pleased to support this important event. Our ag educators are the front line when it comes to the agricultural sector being able to attract a future workforce and are making an incredibly important contribution to the future of agriculture in this country.
Like many other industries, agriculture in Queensland is facing extreme workforce shortages which is really having an impact on farm, and on production capability. The workforce challenges we are facing are global challenges. We are competing on the world stage for our future workforce.
Queensland agriculture (and agriculture across Australia) is growing. The total number of people employed in Queensland agriculture alone has grown by over 26% since 2017 compared with 9% for the state’s overall employment.
Queensland ag provides close to 370,000 jobs across the supply chain and our industry is worth over $23.5 billion to our economy, and this is set to grow if we are able to secure an appropriate workforce to support this growth.
It is projected that there will be increased demand for managerial and numeracy skills, and strong increased demand for technical skills by 2025. Technology and data, regulation and compliance, environment and biosecurity, markets and trade, climate change and extreme weather are all areas predicted to be driving future demand for skills.
The jobs and skills required by industry are changing rapidly, and it’s really important that registered training organisations and universities are working closely with industry to make sure specific competencies within qualifications are in line with the skills needed and tertiary offerings are responsive to industry needs.
Prioritising agriculture in schools has been identified as a key workforce skilling action and conference attendees discussed the importance of embedding agriculture across school curriculums so that students build their awareness of the ag sector from day one in their education journey.
Congratulations to the conference organisers for pulling together such an important conference. It is important that we support our ag educators and QFF looks forward to continuing to work with educators, stakeholders and all levels of government to build a strong workforce for the future of agriculture.