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Farmers to work with schools to ease skills shortage

2 April 2008

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is calling on Australian farmers to team up with their local schools in establishing Trade Training Centres – newly funded on-campus learning centres that give students stimulating hands-on experience in agricultural trades.

An initiative of the Australian Government, the scheme gives local secondary schools the opportunity to apply for funding between $500,000 and $1.5 million to establish a farm-based Trade Training Centre to equip students with the skills for a wide variety of rewarding farm apprenticeships.

“Australian farms need a higher skilled workforce than ever before,” NFF President David Crombie declared. “Communities across rural and regional Australia rely on a dynamic farm sector. As major employers, we must provide interesting, challenging and rewarding employment opportunities that deliver long-term benefits to employees and our regions.

“When we emerge from drought, the NFF calculates that Australian farms will need an extra 100,000 new employees to return to pre-drought production levels. The majority of these positions demand a new set of skills, so training opportunities are vital.

“Agriculture must remain both environmentally-sustainable and internationally-competitive to continue to drive over $103 billion in annual Gross Domestic Product for the national economy, underpinning 1.6 million Australian jobs direct on-farm and through the supply chain.

“Australian farmers lead the world in creating and implementing state-of-the-art technology on-farm to drive productivity growth, but we’ve done so while also developing new environmentally- and carbon-friendly farm systems. Australian farms are at the cutting-edge of meeting the climate change challenge.

“In keeping with these current and emerging developments, a new generation of agricultural employees is required to fill an increasingly diverse range of employment opportunities. This Program allows local schools to arm their students with the knowledge, insight and skills for a head-start on their agricultural careers.

“As the Program is open to all trades, it is vital that farmers seize this initiative by actively seeking out local schools to promote, and provide advice about, agricultures’ needs and support school proposals for funding.

“By giving priority to schools in regional areas, the Australian Government has recognised the importance of a healthy local community in supporting agriculture, which is vital to the economic, environmental and social fabric of the nation.

“The NFF has been intimately involved in shaping the Program with the Australian Government, ensuring agriculture not only has access to the scheme, but that priority is afforded to rural and regional schools. It’s now up to farmers to make the program work for them and their communities.”

For more information on how to apply for program funding, visit: www.tradetrainingcentres.deewr.gov.au

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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