Panel formed to address south-west Victoria agriculture skills shortages

Monique Patterson
By Monique Patterson
December 2 2021 - 9:00pm
AMBASSADOR: Corangamite Shire mayor Ruth Gstrein.

Encouraging people to consider careers in agriculture in south-west Victoria is the aim of a careers advisory panel.

Food and Fibre Great South Coast launched the panel on Wednesday.

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Careers Advisory Panel chair Jonathan Jenkins said food and fibre jobs in the south-west Victoria were expected to increase by 30 per cent by 2035.

"There is a real need for food and fibre careers education delivered to young people and graduates all over Australia," Mr Jenkins said.

"Unfortunately, we know that students just aren't getting it in most schools."

A number of panel ambassadors have welcomed the formation of the panel.

Corangamite Shire mayor Ruth Gstrein said the region was a great place to live and work.

"With agriculture our biggest employer and most dominant land use, we understand the value of promoting rewarding careers in food and fibre," Cr Gstrein said.

"What makes the careers advisory panel different is that, for the first time, we'll showcase the broad range of careers on offer to young people - be they in the great outdoors or in an office, creative or practical."

Warrnambool mayor Richard Ziegeler said the food and fibre sector was a primary driver of the regional economy.

"Yet we know our region has workforce and skills shortages that potentially limit its capacity to grow and prosper," he said.

Deakin University Warrnambool campus director Alistair McCosh said programs that showcased real-world opportunities in regional Victoria were essential.

"We're excited to see the conversations sparked by the program which will encourage students to explore the exciting and rewarding career pathways available throughout the food and fibre supply chain," Mr McCosh said.

Food and Fibre Great South Coast chair Georgina Gubbins said the panel was about industry collaboration with the education sector.

"Farmers think long term," she said.

"We understand the employment challenges we'll face tomorrow as well as those we'll face in 10 years time, and we're committed to addressing these challenges today by taking steps to promote food and fibre education into schools and other educational institutions right across the state".

DemoDAIRY Foundation chair Ralph Leutton said the panel was a terrific example of food and fibre innovations.

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Our historic agricultural industries, like dairy production, need the next generation to keep them growing and flourishing into the future," Mr Leutton said.

South West TAFE strategy and research director John Flett said the institution was proud to be working with the Food and Fibre Great South Coast to deliver the program.

"Attracting young people into the sector is vital and the Institute is actively working on a number of other projects that will assist that objective, as well as other initiatives Food and Fibre Great South Coast has planned," he said.

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Monique Patterson

I'm a journalist with more than 15 years experience. I currently work at The Standard in Warrnambool.

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