August 17th, 2016

A new report that studies Australia’s future opportunities for growth has revealed agri-business as a unique sector that will reach economic prosperity, if it can address areas of concern. Western Australia TAFE has made a move to appropriately skill new students in agriculture, as a shortage in trained professionals threatens to run the sector dry. From August 29 – September 4, National Skills Week will help people better understand the benefits of beginning a career in agriculture through a Vocational Education and Training pathway.

The Deloitte report Positioning for Prosperity? Catching the Next Wave, states that from now till the year 2033, agri-business is going to experience a global growth boom. It also states that countries such as Asia will demand more of Australia’s fresh produce and proteins, revealing a strong hold on export advantage, which will assist in $250 billion being added to the economy. Although Australia’s temperate climate, world class resources in land, minerals and energy, and ideal proximity to the world’s fastest growing markets, sets the nation onto a ripe new boom, skills shortages in agriculture are cutting the Industry short of any win.

According to the National Farmers’ Federation report, which is committed to increasing Australia’s agriculture competitiveness, “the agriculture workforce is facing significant challenges. The workforce is ageing and it is difficult to attract and retain workers both at skilled and semi-skilled levels.” The report also says that although foreign interest in Australian produce is peaking, “demand for Australian produce often far exceeds supply.” A new Western Australia TAFE structure announced on Monday August 15 reflects Vocational Education as pushing forward to remedy skills shortages in the sector.

Following years of negotiations, the Farm Machinery Industry Association has been given the green light to introduce new courses in agriculture across Western Australia, which will see students develop technical and practical skills, allowing for a smooth transition into the workforce. When talking with The Farm Weekly on this new development, FMIA Executive Officer John Henchy said a new world class training facility will be opened, and three existing training centres will offer new training structures with reach covering 95 percent of Western Australia.

“Only one regional TAFE will pick up the agricultural industry,” John said to The Farm Weekly. “That centre will be the first point of reference to get things done.”

National Skills Week launches nation-wide on August 24 in celebration of VET’s committed contribution toward appropriately skilling Australians across a number of sectors.

“The agriculture sector is facing a promising future, but if the nation is to reach new heights, more attention needs to be given to Vocational Training and how it provides appropriate training to students who will contribute to building a strong agriculture workforce,” General Manager at SkillsOne Kirstin Casey said.

“Australian Training Awards Alumni and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors will take part in the week-long celebrations, sharing their stories and assisting in getting the message out.”

2015 Australian Apprentice of the Year Finalist Christopher Henbery took up a Vocational Training pathway in horticulture, leading him onto a future planted with support, success and a handful of awards. In 2012 he won the a Nursery and Garden Industry of Victoria scholarship, in 2013 he won Swinburne University of Technology Outstanding Apprentice of the Year, and he also secured a bronze medal for his garden design at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

“I came to Australia about four and a half years ago and actually left a nine year banking career and really just wanted to take the opportunity to take on a career that I loved and had a passion for,” Christopher said.

“The thing I loved about the apprenticeship is that I didn’t have to just focus on study. I could work and I could still earn money while I was doing the apprenticeship, and that’s a great benefit.”

Christopher values the Vocational Training he undertook in a Certificate III in Horticulture for its ability to offer him a range of subjects, and skill him across different areas in the field such as plant identification and business management.

“The certificates III and the apprenticeships allow you to push forward with that and really hone in on those skills and that passion and to grow it,” Christopher said.

For further information on Christopher’s story or that of other Australian Training Awards Alumni and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors visit and

Join us during National Skills Week and celebrate how VET will push Australia toward an agriculture boom. Organise an event, or take part in the many events that can be found on the National Skills Week website:

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