AGRICULTURE training is facing some “key shortages”, according to Livestock SA and SA Dairyfarmers’ Association chief executive officer Andrew Curtis.
He said several core sectors and regions were missing out.
“We need skills to underpin what is a major regional and state employer,” he said.
Mr Curtis said the pastoral area was one highlighted as lacking in access to training, with entry-level training pretty much withdrawn in the past decade, taking away access to important, basic knowledge.
He said there were also issues in the dairy industry.
“For dairyfarmers, there is good support through Tafe at Mount Gambier but it is difficult to replicate that training closer to Adelaide, which is where half the industry is,” he said.
Wool classing was another area of concern, with tafeSA not holding its course in the first half of the year.
tafeSA had 415 enrolments in its agriculture and horticulture courses in semester one this year – down from 774 last year.
But interim chief executive Alex Reid said these numbers would “bounce back” with 80 students ready for the new wool classing training package.
“This and other qualifications were not offered in 2018, while upgrades and quality reviews were applied to the courses to ensure they are meeting with industry needs and regulations,” he said.
Mr Reid said training was generally held in areas where farming was a major industry sector, such as the South East, Fleurieu, Mid North, Lower Eyre Peninsula and Riverland, through local campuses and flexible locations like farms, shearing sheds, wineries and community facilities.
“There has been a steady increase in demand for agricultural courses and tafeSA liaises closely with the industry and local businesses to ensure training meets local skill requirements,” Mr Reid said.
“We are working with industry groups, including Livestock SA, to identify training requirements throughout the pastoral industry.
“Building on the success of our world-renowned shearing program, we are also looking at basic training for those new to the industry as well as those potentially considering a career in the agricultural sector.”
Mr Curtis said for some regions the issue was trainers were not available.
“There needs to be long-term investment by the government to allow training to be developed,” he said.
With the Vic government announcing that several “priority” courses, including certificates in agriculture and horticulture, will be fee-free for Vic residents from 2019, there is the danger that those seeking training may move interstate.
“There is some good raw talent, that if we can’t do the training, they will go somewhere else where they can,” Mr Curtis said.
Industry and Skills Minister David Pisoni said the government was implementing an “industry-led” training system, aligned to “real job outcomes”.
In May, the government released a renewed subsidised training list, which included several agriculture courses, with Mr Pisoni saying it was formed with input from industry and employers.
“We want to see young South Australians trained in SA and working in SA,” he said.
Mr Pisoni said a skilled workforce in agriculture remained one of the government’s priorities, alongside growing sectors of defence, medical technologies, mining and cyber-security.
He said to make this happen, they were re-establishing Industry Skills Councils, including one representing the food and wine sector, to provide industry with a direct voice to government.