Growing the next generation of farmers

Students tending their farm produce.

The Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) is on the hunt for employers to inspire the next generation of local farmers.

In the coming 2019 Christmas school holidays, Bundaberg Christian College students will participate in a school-based paid work experience program trial run by QAWN and Bundaberg Canegrowers.

QAWN Agriculture Workforce Officer Kylie Jackson said the aim of the pilot was to show young people that agriculture is an exciting, dynamic career path.

“Agriculture is a diverse business, and a lot of our cane growers have diversified into horticulture crops as well, so we want give students an all-rounded approach,” Ms Jackson said.

“A lot of the older cane growers reminisce about how the trade colleges worked, and that they would graduate with both practical hands-on experience and their diplomas.

“We don’t have that kind of college training here, so that’s why we’re running these programs, to give kids that practical hands-on taste of the industry, which can be supported by training if they decide this is the path for them.”

Ms Jackson said about a dozen grade ten students from Bundaberg Christian College would rotate through five businesses over summer. If the pilot is successful, it will be expanded across the region year-round.

“We’ve got six state schools we could tap into and three or four private schools,” she said.

“We’ve got plenty of interested students, so now we need to show employers how this could benefit their business and their industry.”

Ms Jackson said there were growing concerns about the age of the agriculture industry and the need for succession planning and practical training.

“It is often difficult and time consuming work to work out which employees can meet the needs of individual businesses,” she said.

“We hope this pilot will support producers to nurture the next generation of workers, to help transition them from work experience to ongoing employment.”