AgriFood Skills – Make It Work

SkillsOne travelled to Narrabri to talk to Arthur Blewitt, CEO of AgriFoods Skills Australia and Russell Stewart, Development Manager of the Make It Work Program which aims to up-skill workers in the industry.

With the eastern states in recovery from drought and the insatiable world appetite for food, fibre, minerals and resources, AgriFood Skills Australia realised the regions were poised to significantly grow their role as the major contributor to the country’s economy.

But the key to unleashing this potential rested largely with Australia’s capacity to develop robust, highly skilled labour pools within the regions. Working closely with industry in north west New South Wales over a number of years, highlighted the challenges of ensuring long-term sustainability and economic prosperity in a region with an increasingly competitive job market.

The North West Advisory Group was established as a reference group under the auspice of AgriFood Skills Australia. The Group identified four priorities from the summit and with assistance and guidance from AgriFood staff, developed strategies across the following areas:

  • Professional development for business owners and managers, especially in the areas of contemporary HR practice, skills utilisation, job design, recruitment strategies for permanent and seasonal workers
  • Retention of the existing workforce – Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and up-skilling of existing workers, cross-industry skills training that addressed labour needs across the region
  • Career opportunities for young people – stop the drain of bright young people to the metropolitan areas by giving students an appreciation of jobs that are available in the region through targeted promotion to career advisers, expand work experience places and a program focusing on young people in their gap year.
  • Assessment of regional skills demand – develop a skills demand calendar, across five industry sectors that tracks peak labour demand and guides the development of training plans.
VJ Andrew Little