Senate report into higher education and skills training to support
agriculture and agribusiness in Australia
Final report made public this week [Senate report into agriculture and agribusiness].
The Senate report has now been released for this inquiry. Rural Skills Australia made a submis on-going government funding assistance to establish a rural industry working party under a coordinated whole of government response to industry skill and labour shortages.
Senate Committee of Inquiry: 'Higher education and skills training to support future demand in agriculture and agribusiness', November 2011:
A continuing difficulty for primary producers is the lack of coordination and cooperation between levels of government and between agencies. A whole of government approach in conjunction with peak industry associations may provide industry with the scope for better coordination of Commonwealth, state and territory efforts to meet industry’s current and future skill needs.
Cuts to funding, loss of capacity
There has been a greater uptake of training by rural Australia and in 2010 rural and related Australian Apprenticeships rose 19.6 per cent over (8 849 compared with 7 401). Over the past nine years 25 000 students have commenced agricultural traineeships.
Yet the great promise demonstrated by these figures has been seriously compromised by overly complex training systems at a national, state and territory level.
In some states and territories, over the last eight to 10 years funding pressures and falling full-time student demand have clearly impacted on the number of institutions involved in full-time rural training delivery and the nature and type of rural training provided at some levels. This is coupled with very difficult seasonal conditions, persistent and unrelentingly droughts, flooding and related catastrophic natural disasters.
In the highly competitive labour market enviro! nment government workforce programs favouring traditional trades in mining and construction have disadvantaged recruitment of skilled agricultural employees.
Many government training institutions have been closed or seriously reduced in capacity. Agricultural programs are seen as less competitive compared with others when cut-backs need to be made. Agricultural programs in secondary schools are often seen as too complex, requiring space to operate, resource intensive and time consuming for staff, especially with travel and logistic problems.
This ongoing reluctance of governments at all levels to provide funding for agricultural training is the most significant impediment to greater rural industry participation in education and training. It is a continuing major concern of industry that governments cannot commit the required additional resources to adequately service thin rural training markets across wide geographical areas.
Victorian Government Inquiry: 'Agricultural education and training', October 2011 - Rural Skills Australia submission
Green paper to inform development of a National Food Plan: September 2012 - Rural Skills Australia submission