While many factors contributing to the strength of the South Australian dairy industry are heading in the right direction, the continued issue of labour has led to the establishment of an SA Dairy Workforce Committee.
Consisting of farmers, small and large processors, and representatives from SA Dairyfarmers Association, Dairy SA, TAFE SA, Dairysafe and the Department of Innovation and Skills, the committee was established to examine and provide solutions for challenges the industry was facing.
Heading the committee is SA Dairy action plan officer Ashleigh Pulford who said the issue of workforce was one of the main issues raised at SA Dairy Summits in November 2019 and March this year.
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"Due to COVID, like many other industries there isn't that seasonal workforce coming in. In peak milk times there just isn't the workforce available.
"Just as big an issue is the education of people looking to work in dairies.
"There are people that are keen to work on farms, but haven't got the knowledge or skills to be able to go straight in and work."
Meeting for the first time last week, the workforce committee discussed the idea of establishing worker hubs and creating an on-farm upskilling program, potentially tying in with the Micro-credentials program supported by the Department for Innovation and Skills.
"While it's only a discussion idea presently, we're looking at putting worker hubs in a central town on the Fleurieu or in the South East where workers would come - complying with COVID requirements - for a set amount of time, whether it be three or six months, and rotate between different farms," Ms Pulford said.
"That would give them an insight into how different operations work and if they didn't want to continue, they would have the option at trying their hand at horticulture or something else once they'd finished with dairy."
Ms Pulford said the committee would meet every two months and was confident, given the representation from across the supply chain, that actions would result to tackle industry issues.
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