Investigating future training and education opportunities for both new and existing vegetable industry member
This project was developed to allow a subgroup from the Australian vegetable industry¡¦s Consumer Alignment Design Team to participate in a series of meetings throughout Australia with several recognised agriculturally-focused universities. The meetings aimed to stimulate ideas on how the vegetable industry can increase the uptake of horticultural courses by tertiary students; and to boost the training and up-skilling of individuals already in the industry, with a minimum impact on their farming operations. Three outputs were identified in the project brief: 1. To investigate the feasibility of a scholarship program or scheme; 2. To provide vegetable levy payers with direct access to funds for subsidising skills enhancement and education; and 3. To attract and introduce new people into the industry, up-skill existing members of the industry, and provide potential industry leaders with greater levels of knowledge. Several universities were identified as delivering well regarded agricultural courses, including: Curtin University (WA), University of Western Australia (WA), University of Adelaide (SA), University of Tasmania/Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TAS) and University of Queensland (QLD). Meetings were organised with representatives from each of these institutions over a period of four days. The University of New England (NSW) was unable to find a suitable time to meet with the Design Team delegation, and the project time frame and budgetary allowance did not permit meetings with further universities or colleges. AUSVEG National Marketing Manager, Simon Coburn, coordinated the logistics of the meetings and also minuted meetings for reference. The delegation that participated in these meetings was comprised of the following participants: Belinda Adams (Consumer Alignment Design Team) Michael Nixon (Consumer Alignment Design Team) Peter Ward* (Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee) Peter Melville (Horticulture Australia Limited) The selected universities provided a geographical spread, which ensured that an accurate view was obtained of the national position with regards to enrolments in agricultural courses, as well as opportunities offered by these institutions for up-skilling existing industry workers. While national enrolments across the selected universities suggests that the uptake of agricultural courses may in fact be increasing, which is in contrast to the perceived decline of enrolment numbers in agricultural-related courses, they are nonetheless significantly lower than they were 10 years ago. Information provided has also indicated that the majority of enrolments in agricultural courses do not translate into horticultural careers. Several suggestions and strategies were put forward by representatives of the universities visited, which may positively alter this trend. These are detailed in the report.