New era in career training

New era in career training

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RST manager Caroline Graham started her business to fill the gap in rural training.

RST manager Caroline Graham started her business to fill the gap in rural training.

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A CAREER in agriculture is no longer solely about the farm, according to Regional Skills Training manager Caroline Graham.

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A CAREER in agriculture is no longer solely about the farm, it is about maintaining the strength and viability of our rural communities, according to Regional Skills Training manager Caroline Graham.

Mrs Graham said women were slowly changing the way farm business was planned.

"They know the seasonal annual production aspects are critical but are providing a longer-term view of the farm business which includes the external risk factors," she said.

"They are demanding training about recognising and dealing with the issues that could take away the viability of the farm, completely unrelated to the normal production system, like safety."

Mrs Graham said there was an increasing trend of women on-farm who were not originally from farming families.

"They haven't lived farming all their life and so training is essential," she said.

"As a 'new farmer' they are faced with an overwhelming number of changes like isolation, entering a family business with multiple generations, learning to cope with the ups and downs the season brings, having no surety of income, and learning about the business of farming.

"RST starts with business management topics and then weaves in production management to learn how all aspects of farming link together.

"As students gain confidence we see them embrace the touchy issues like succession planning and safety."

She says safety is a hot topic as women are increasingly driving the implementation of a workable, daily safety system.

"This is one of the best parts of my career - seeing a need and being proactive about a solution to fix it," Mrs Graham said.

"RST has spent the last 18 months developing a software program that will make this complex and daunting area simple and totally contextualised to each farm.

"There are so many risks on-farm and the Harmonised Workplace Legislation is capable of causing so much devastation to a family.

"RST has been proactive about developing a sensible, affordable and easily managed system which women can easily run and men will accept and actually use on the farm."

Identifying a need and providing a solution is how Mrs Graham's business, RST, was started.

Mrs Graham has a Bachelor in Horticultural Business Management and a Bachelor in Adult Education.

She was working for TAFE 13 years ago, managing their Primary Industries program, but needed to be at home for a while after her husband Mark, with whom she owns a farm at Arthurton, had a corneal transplant.

"I was also becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of industry relevance with available training," Mrs Graham said.

"I am pretty determined when I decide I can do something so I asked Mark what he thought about setting up our own registered training organisation.

"We knew it would be a massive job to gain registration but he supported me to have a go."

The core of RST's business is accredited training.

"We work with kids achieving their stage one and two SACE at more than 50 schools across the state, through to training adult students in the Advanced Diploma in Agribusiness," Mrs Graham said.

"In addition we provide all of the ticketing requirements that any farmer may need such as chemical accreditation, all load shifting equipment, working at heights, working in confined spaces, workplace health and safety."

Mrs Graham said she focused on rural skills because 'farming training has always missed out'.

"I know governments get sick of hearing about why farmers and rural people have different needs but the fact is that we do," she said.

"We need seasonal training, contextualised to the issues that are occurring in that given year. Nothing can be set in cement."

The story New era in career training first appeared on Farm Online.

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