For the first time in six years TAFE Queensland will deliver horticultural courses at its Bundaberg campus with an industry expert already onboard.
Jos Abdiel grew up on farms and has managed a number of commercial properties specialising in tree crops like fig, almond and macadamia.
He’s bringing years of experience to the role which will enable TAFE Bundaberg to deliver a Certificate III in Horticulture and various short courses.
“There certainly is a massive, massive need for it locally,” Jos said.
“Bundaberg has always been a hub for growing, and it's just getting bigger.”
Jos said the roughly 12-month long Certificate III in Horticulture course would open the door to a range of career options in the growing industry, including commercial farming and nurseries.
“Anything to do with horticulture really, and even in agriculture as well.
“There's an unlimited area that you could move into as well, lots of different paths to go down.
“Even in parks and gardens, if you’ve got a passion for trees and growing stuff, that's going to be an advantage for you.”
Part of Bundaberg’s new horticulture program will be to encourage young people to enter the industry through the TAFE at schools program.
Jos said interested students can spend one day a week with TAFE studying horticulture or animals studies and could gain a qualification and industry experience.
“They'll work with us and we've got other people that are on board as well like the zoos and the local vets and stuff like that, that are really supportive of it as well.
“They'll come out of the other end with a qualification … that they can then use to either move forward with their qualifications, or even get work with that qualification.”
The range of short courses, which include chemical use, chainsaws and quad bikes, each take about four days to complete and can also help people already in the industry to upskill or gain relevant licences.
With the introduction of horticultural courses comes a major upgrade for the TAFE Bundaberg campus.
“It's going look like a paradise,” Jos said.
Among the many improvements will be a greenhouse and “hardening area”.
“So once they come out of the greenhouse they go over here and get exposure to the sun and develop resistance,” he said.
“We're going to also move around and have bays where the trees are growing and put a little water feature in.
“The students will learn about lawn care, so they'll actually be establishing lawns and retaining walls and putting in new trees as well as labels as well.”
In addition to working with commercial growers to offer students relevant experience, Jos said he was excited to explore partnerships with Bundaberg Regional Council including assistance with the One Million Trees Bundaberg project.
“I think it's a fantastic idea and it's a great goal to work towards.
“For us, we can definitely get on board and support that even with preparing the land for the trees as well as putting the trees in the ground and then ongoing maintenance with it.”
Jos said the courses would roll out from 2021 and there had already been substantial interest from potential students.
For more information about the Certificate III in Horticulture course, contact TAFE Queensland.