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Education and Training

Attracting, training and retaining the next generation is a priority issue for the agricultural sector, and the NFF plays an active role in projects and partnerships in agricultural education, training and skills development.


The NFF believes that if Australian agriculture is going to have a strong and sustainable future, then we must invest in our most important resource – people.

There are many challenges facing agriculture's human resources: the labour force is ageing, there are fewer young people entering agriculture, and drought and other competing industries have had a significant impact on the amount of labour available.

Yet the career opportunities available in agriculture are enormous. Career options include farmers and farm managers, animal nutritionists, plant breeders and soil scientists, agronomists, natural resource managers, quarantine officers, journalists, policy advisers, commodity marketers... all the way through to those who rely on agricultural produce, like chefs, winemakers and fashion designers.

The NFF believes education is a vital component of ensuring the longevity of the agricultural sector - from primary school children right through to tertiary students - in order to encourage greater interest in agricultural careers, and to help build understanding of where food and fibre comes from. This is why the NFF is a founding member of the Primary Industries Education Foundation (PIEF), and was one of the driving forces behind its creation.

Then, as students begin their agricultural career, it is essential that the right skills, training and education opportunities are available to ensure students are well prepared for the roles ahead (one of the reasons why NFF remains a strong supporter of Rural Skills Australia), and that career development and leadership opportunities are available.

More information
For more on the role NFF is playing in helping to solve the issue, view the NFF's recent submissions on education, training and skills.

Agricultural Education, Skills, Training and Labour Working Group

The NFF is taking an active role in bringing together the education, skills, training and labour sectors to work towards a collaborative solution to the education and labour shortage issues facing Australian agriculture.

In February 2012, the NFF convened an Industry Roundtable, bringing together 50 industry, government and education representatives as the first step towards finding practical solutions. From this Industry Roundtable, an Education, Skills, Training and Labour Working Group has been established involving key industry leaders to drive solutions.

The NFF is playing a facilitation role, as we appreciate that the issues are larger than any one group alone. Real outcomes in this area will rely on collaboration and coordination of industry, government and the education sector, hence the Working Group is taking an active leadership role on behalf of Australian agriculture.

More information
For more information, view the NFF's 2011 Submission to the Senate Inquiry into higher education, skills and training in agriculture, or the NFF's 2012 media release re the Industry Roundtable.

Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia

The Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation aimed at delivering food and fibre education programs to primary and high school children across the country, and ensuring agriculture is factored into the national curriculum.

Research by PIEFA found that 75 percent of children believe cotton is an animal product and 27 percent think yoghurt is a plant product. The research clearly shows that more needs to be done to build children's understanding of where food and fibre comes from: exactly why the PIEFA exists.

The PIEFA is dedicated to raising the profile and awareness of farming among students to foster greater understanding and appreciation of farming's relevance to the everyday lives of Australians, and to encourage more students to consider agricultural-related careers.

The NFF is a founding member of PIEFA, and was one of the driving forces behind its creation. The NFF helped bring together agricultural groups, educators, peak bodies and the Australian Government to pioneer the PIEFA, meeting the educational needs of schools, teachers and students.

More information
For more information, contact the PIEFA CEO Ben Stockwin on 02 6198 3271 or visit the PIEFA website.

Rural Skills Australia

Rural Skills Australia provides advice and assistance on rural and related skills and training to the NFF and our membership, as well as Australian Apprenticeship Centres, Jobs Services Australia members, registered training organisations and and group training organisations.

Formed by the NFF in 1995 through funding from the National Employment and Training Taskforce (NETTFORCE), Rural Skills Australia works to improve rural involvement in education and training, and enhances the skills and capacities of those in agriculture.

Rural Skills Australia has contributed significantly to increasing the number of rural and related traineeship and apprenticeship commencements each year, with a view to combating an ageing rural workforce and shrinking rural communities, and to equipping the next generation of rural workers with transferable, recognised and valued skills.

Rural Skills Australia has maintained a network of Education and Training Advisers, with bipartisan support, to assist the NFF and its membership across the full spectrum of employment, education and training matters.

More information
For more, visit the Rural Skills Australia website.

Future Farmers Network

The Future Farmers Network is Australia's only national agricultural youth network, with members from across all aspects of the industry.

Future Farmers Network members include those working on farms and remote stations, stock and station agents, commodity traders, bankers, journalists, policy developers, researchers and many others, from those in the bush to those in the boardrooms.

The Future Farmers Network is a source of information specifically designed to help young Australians involved in agriculture. The Future Farmers Network has been operating since 2002 and provides members with access to the latest news, events, scholarships, awards and information from across all aspects of the agricultural sector.

The NFF joined forces with the Future Farmers Network in February 2013, in a partnership that provides opportunities for young farmers to learn about policy development and advocacy on the national stage.

For more, visit the Future Farmers Network website.

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