A recent Farm Traineeships survey confirms the validity of RDAWEP’s concern that not enough of the new generation of farmers are acquiring the skills necessary to increase efficiencies and maximise farm profits in a safe and sustainable fashion.
The survey confirms that farms on Eyre Peninsula generally employ very few people other than family members and extra workers during seeding and harvest periods. During these busier times they employ casual farm workers who are generally seasonal but not always formally trained or qualified. These casual workers are often employed in other industry sectors outside of the seeding and harvest period. It was not known how many people are employed full-time in farming have traineeship qualifications or would like to have a qualification.
The survey reveals that many respondents believe that land management knowledge is a priority for future farmers, for continued improvement in agricultural efficiencies, profits and workplace safety.
Farm technology is evolving rapidly, especially in new technologies such as the use of drones and computer operated heavy machinery to increase production and efficiencies. The survey supports that machinery operation skills are important and a program which offers farm workers certificate qualifications and experience in the myriad of new skills is necessary.
RDAWEP is now applying for program funding which will provide the opportunity to bring a number of students from small farming communities across Eyre Peninsula and aggregate them into a group. This will provide economies of scale to offer a two year Certificate II Agricultural traineeship. This duration is also supported by survey respondents. Respondents also believe that off-site training needs to be run in and around their own communities such as Port Lincoln, Wudinna, Ceduna and Whyalla.
The training provider will need to have the capacity to be flexible and deliver training around the vagaries of the farming calendar such as seeding, harvest and shearing.
With a flexible program, trainees will find it easier to manage the expense, travel distance and time required to succeed. This is supported by the majority of respondents indicating that they will employ a trainee if this flexibility is provided.
Farming businesses will benefit from greater efficiencies, profits, land management skills and farm safety awareness, which are skills that will be enhanced with appropriate industry specific training.