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Farmers and miners working to solve rural skill shortages

17 July 2007

FACING an unprecedented demand for skilled labour in rural Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Minerals Council of Australia and the Australian Government.

“The future sustainability of regional areas is heavily reliant on our ability to provide interesting and rewarding employment opportunities – as well as maintain necessary services for farm businesses and families,” Mr Simon Ramsay, NFF Board Member and President of the Victorian Farmers Federation said.

“As major regional employers, the agriculture and mineral sectors will work together to attract, train and retain workers to deliver greater long-term benefits to the regional communities in which we operate.”

The MoU Taskforce has identified three regional areas with a strong presence of both agriculture and mining in which initial activities will be based - Townsville, QLD, Port Augusta, SA and Dubbo, NSW. After undergoing an initial assessment, specific planning activities will be developed and implemented for each region.

“The first step is to identify ways to better coordinate existing government and industry initiatives, programs and partnerships - as well as looking at possible solutions for the short, medium and longer-term.

“By working hand-in-hand with the minerals sector and the Australian Government, our farmers have a much greater ability to produce and deliver education and training initiatives that will result in a mutually skilled workforce.

“Once we emerge from the current drought, farmers estimate the need for an additional 50,000 workers, with the minerals industry requiring a similar figure on the back of escalating international demand.

“Australian farmers are developing and implementing new and advanced technology on-farm to drive productivity and practice natural resource management. As such, our workforce needs to be appropriately skilled and by working cooperatively with the minerals sector to deliver training with a high transferability of skills, the initiative will go a long way to achieve this.

“We congratulate the Australian Government who have listened to the farm and mineral sectors and are joining us as a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding.”

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

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