Industry Skills Fund · Growth Stream

The Australian Government has launched the new Industry Skills Fund – (ISF). The ISF has been established to fund small and medium businesses which have an identified growth opportunity. The Fund will co-invest in [accredited and non-accredited] training or mentoring to meet identified skills gaps. It is important to understand that the ISF does not provide funding for business as usual or business compliance training.

Rural Skills Australia working in conjunction with the National Farmers’ Federation is delighted to be assisting the Australian Government rollout the new Fund engaging five Skills Advisers to assist businesses referred by the Department of Education and Training to determine skills gaps and make appropriate training recommendations.

For detailed information visit:

This site includes ISF guidelines, factsheets and FAQ as well as details on how individual enterprises and consortia can potentially access the fund. All applications for funding are made online through this website and applications will be judged against eligibility and merit requirements. The Application process can begin with an online Enquiry form or by calling 13 28 46.

See Assistant Minister Simon Birmingham’s media release:


Wool inspirations

National Merino Challenge

KiraThe 2014 National Merino Challenge – an initiative of Australian Wool Innovation – is attracting some of the highest quality agriculture students from schools, TAFEs, agriculture colleges and universities across every wool growing region of Australia.

The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria is the host venue provider for the 2014 National Merino Challenge at the Melbourne Royal Agricultural Showgrounds.

Three students attending the challenge in May participated in preparing profiles of their interest in careers in agriculture.

Their stories showcase the talent and extraordinary young people who are the future of Australian agriculture. Please follow the links below.

For further enquiries or interest in participation at the National Merino Challenge, please contact Charles Impey, the Education and Training Adviser for NSW and the ACT, Phone: 0419 496 876 or email

World’s No 1

Australia is the world’s number one producer of premium quality fine wool, and is the largest producer of all wools by value and volume.

Wool was Australia’s second largest agricultural export in 2006-07 behind beef, valued at $3.07 billion and making up approximately 11 per cent of total farm exports. Australia ships wool to 52 countries with the biggest being China, which takes around 65 per cent of the national clip.

Wool production offers a challenging, physical and interesting lifestyle, often involving extensive travel and living away from home for short periods. Young workers view working visits to regional and remote areas of Australia as an attractive benefit. Wool harvesting occurs in all states and there are good financial returns for top shearers and woolclassers during the shearing season.

Most new entrants to the industry will begin as wool handlers but workers will generally choose to follow one of two main pathways early in their career.

Australia has around 5,000 shearers and a similar number of wool handlers and crutchers. More than 1,000 new staff are required annually, plus 300-400 new woolclassers.


Inspiring careers in agriculture

By David Forbes

We are continuing to run a range of agriculture and horticulture programs in Victoria aimed at inspiring young people to imagine a future for themselves in agriculture.

We inspire them by introducing them to people who are positive and innovative in their approach to the industry, by challenging their thinking, demonstrating the possibilities and opportunities and through hands-on participation.

In March we conducted two ‘Taster’ days for students.

The first, was an agriculture/horticulture taster day for Year 9 students from Rushworth P-12 College.

Students saw first-hand Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) Tatura, Mitchelton Winery and Swettenham Stud (both in Nagambie).

Students had lunch beside the new Black Caviar statue  at Nagambie (shown right).

They were given a broad range of career choices and spoke with employees about how they got into the industry and their own career pathways.

The other event was an Equine Careers Day for students attending the Bendigo Trade Training Centre.

The students went to Wingrove Park Stud (Kerrie), Bendigo Harness Racing Training Centre and then to the Bendigo Races.

At each of these destinations, students were exposed to careers in horse breeding, harness racing and thoroughbred racing.

Many of the students owned their own horse but didn’t realise the numerous careers available in the horse industry.

See range of jobs and qualifications in the new Rural Career Guide.

Once again, students experienced a broad range of career options and spoke with a number of employees.

The Dookie Agriculture and Horticulture Careers Day event, mentioned in the previous RSA newsletter, is now being conducted over two days on 8-9 May.

The Gippsland Discover Ag camp is being conducted from 19-23 May. Positions are filling and students are coming from Victoria and Tasmania.

More information

There are still places left, so if you have students who are interested, please email me at and I will provide more information, or call 03 9376 8037 or 0427 665 946.


Rural Skills Online

The first quarter of 2014 has seen significant additions to Rural Skills Online with a number of training providers taking up access and new learning and assessment material for the 14 units for the Certificate I in Agrifood Operations. These have been added to the suite of content.

New training providers joining the already impressive list of organisations include the Australian Agriculture College Corporation in Queensland, and TAFE SA, which delivers agriculture and horticulture programs in South Australia.

We welcome these two large organisations along with several smaller training providers.

The addition of learning and assessment material for  the Certificate I in Agrifood Operations has resulted from discussions with a number of our partner RTO’s who were looking to engage the secondary sector across years/grades 8, 9 and 10 as a complement to their Certificate II and III programs.

This new content has been created in a format that will allow use on not only desktops (PC and Mac) andlLaptops but also on the range of tablets (iPads and Android) now quite prevalent in many schools and colleges. This new format will be extended to the existing unit material as a part of the ongoing review and upgrade of content.

An up-to date-listing of learning and assessment material for units from the AHC10 Training Package is now available. See Rural Skills Online

For information

Gordon Griffin
Phone:     03 5821 1522
Mobile:     0417 361632


Career in horse breeding

Rural skills win for school-based trainees

Rural Skills Australia has helped to obtain funding through the NSW State Training Services to provide important training and mentoring for 12 new school-based trainees in the Hunter Valley region of NSW.

The school-based trainees were engaged by the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association as a first step in a career in Australia’s horse breeding industry, involving the care, mating, raising, marketing and management of valuable bloodstock.

But skilled trainer/mentors are needed to guide students with on-the-job skills and training.

Australian Apprenticeships Adviser in Hunter and Northern NSW, Melody Green, said Rural Skills Australia had played a central role in the application process.

Melody said Rural Skills Australia and Hunter TAFE worked with the NSW State Training Services to apply successfully for the mentoring funding under the strategic skills program funding.

“It is essential that we can offer skilled mentoring to school-based trainees to ensure the future of such an important industry,” Melody said.

Horse breeding is crucial to the national horse industry, which comprises thoroughbred and harness racing, breeding and equestrian organisations and businesses. These industries contribute an estimated $6.3 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product. See Horse Breeding in the Rural Career Guide.

Horse breeding occurs throughout Australia and creates many investment and career opportunities in rural and urban communities. The export of live horses is comparable in value with live cattle and sheep, going to New Zealand, Asia and South Africa.

Partners in the project include the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Hunter TAFE Business Services (which will deliver the mentoring program) and funding is from Hunter State Training Services.

The mentors will complete their training before providing coaching to the school-based trainees. All states offer a VET in Schools program as part of usual school studies. Around a third of senior secondary students are enrolled in a VET in Schools course through Australia.

They enable students to earn credits towards recognised VET qualifications while completing the general education curriculum or working towards a senior secondary certificate.

The Strategic Skills Program is a NSW Government funded training fund that purchases training from Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to address the strategic skill needs of industry administered through the NSW State Training Services.


A Guide for Station Hands

Update on A Guide for Station Hands booklet from our March newsletter.

There was a tremendous response and interest in the guide Australia-wide. Subsequently it has now been agreed that the Queensland Gateway Schools to Agribusiness program will use the text and sketches to develop a freely available online resource for schools that would be used to encourage students to consider the beef industry as a career.

This will be trialled in the Gateway schools and then be available to all schools and industry for general use.

Previous article

We are making A Guide for Station Hands available to industry to download from this page. It is a very useful guide for people seeking employment in the pastoral industry. It is also very useful for people who are new to the industry and may be interested in the way of life and work practices on pastoral properties.

The guide was published initially in 1999 by the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia. It was funded by Lotteries WA. As copies dried up RSA with industry assistance organised for a reprint in 2003. However, printed copies are now scarce.

This excellent booklet is now available to download from the Rural Skills Australia website to ensure it remains available.

Our thanks to the authors, the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA and John Willox from the Department of Education and Training Western Australia and to the illustrators, Jano Foulkes-Taylor and Mary Taylor, for permissions to make the booklet available. Downoad here


Seasonal workers from Tonga

The Seasonal Worker Program is in full swing at Newton Brothers Orchards in Manjimup.

This is the fourth year Newton Brothers have employed seasonal workers from Tonga, many of whom have been back each year and are very experienced.

WA employers using the scheme are impressed by the strong work ethic and general demeanour of the workers which can also lift the productivity of their backpacker workforce. The workers return home between seasons and Picture thanks to Jackie Jarvis MADEC Harvest Labour Servicesmany have used their income to improve their standard of living, for example having electricity connected at home.

The Seasonal Worker Program is available to approved Australian horticulture employers and seasonal workers from eight Pacific island countries, bringing them together for 14 weeks to six months seasonal work. Employers may manage the arrangements themselves or use approved labour hire companies.

Picture thanks to Jackie Jarvis MADEC Harvest Labour Services

More information

Contact Fred Chambers 0409 884 574



TAFE SA to participate in Rural Skills Online

Ross Manthorpe

Waite Campus, Hartley Grove
Building 11b, Gate 2C
University of Adelaide
Urrbrae SA 5064

Postal address:
PO Box 13
Highgate SA 5063

Phone: 08 8121 7954 – 0409 676 694 –

The Gilles Plains campus of TAFE SA is introducing the Rural Skills Australia Online learning management and assessment system to support vocational education and training in rural and regional South Australia.

Agriculture lecturers and administration staff have attended a Rural Skills Online professional development session.

This partnership between Rural Skills Australia and TAFE SA will give significant on-line access and support for Australian Apprenticeships in agriculture. TAFE SA already provides significant on-line access to qualifications and training though its website: Agriculture and Science.

Wool Studies

Each year TAFE SA runs an on-site Shearer/Wool Handler program at various woolsheds across the state.

The remainder of this year’s Shearer/Wool Handler program to be run by TAFE SA, which includes contact details, can be found at the Wool Studies link.


Humanitarian refugees for rural Queensland

Bob Ward is assisting Access Community Services to prepare humanitarian refugees for work in Queensland’s Lockyer growing district.

The project will involve relocating refugees to the Lockyer growing district to work in production horticulture. Bob will be involved in selecting participants, pre-arrival planning, settlement of families and individuals, accommodation, training, employment, education, social networks, Centrelink, health services and ongoing support services.

Bob addressed the recent Gatton Employer’s Forum: ‘Building a Sustainable Future’ where he spoke at length about traineeships in the production horticulture sector.

Other speakers included the Hon Glen Elmes, MP, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier, Mark Pace, the Director of the Gatton Vocational Education Centre and Michael Krafft, the Executive Manager of Access Community Services.

Pictured: Michael Krafft (speaker) with Minister Elmes, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Robert Cavallucci, Growcom representatives and a number of local employers.

Access Community Services is a community based not-for-profit organisation, established in 1984 to assist seriously disadvantaged and marginalised groups and communities. Since 1992 it has focused on providing specialised support and services to newly arrived migrants and refugees.

One of its successful previous pilot projects is the Rural Employment Assistance Program. This venture sought to relocate Burmese, African and Afgan refugees from areas in south east Queensland that were experiencing high levels of unemployment to rural areas with significant labour market shortages, such as Biloela and Rockhampton.

Out of 48 adults (with 15 dependent children) 47 found employment.

Bob will continue to work closely with Access Community Services during the relocation process to ensure that project outcomes and targets are reached, particularly with respect to Vocational Education and Training requirements.


Discover Dairying

RSA’s Roger Tyshing describes the Discover Ag program that runs in Tasmania and Victoria each year

We kicked off this year’s Discover Agriculture series with a 3 ½ day Discover Dairying program at the end of March.

This is the second year the program has run and is based on the successes from last year. Very little was changed and it focused on career opportunities in the dairy industry. Discover Dairying was funded in part by Dairy Australia and DairyTas.

Discover Dairying was based in the Circular Head region in Tasmania’s north-west and was attended by 10 students from 10 schools across the state.

Participants visited four dairies of varying sizes, where they saw milk harvesting technologies at work, including robotic milking. They went to the new milk factory at Tasmanian Dairy Products in Smithton and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, where they learned about pasture management. They also visited TasTAFE (National Centre for Dairy Education), the University of Tasmania and AgriTas.

They took part in a wide range of activities, including ‘cups on’ and ‘cups off’ and most of the students indicated they were keen to start a career in the dairy industry. Full coverage