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In a recent media release from Agriculture Victoria titled "Keeping our fruit industry moving forward" they have reported that.

"...Attracting, developing and keeping skilled people within fruit growing businesses is an ongoing challenge.

The Goulburn Valley fruit industry and stakeholders met recently at the Skilled Workforce Solutions for Horticulture Forum, to discuss skilled workforce development and the ongoing needs.

Fruit Growers Victoria Chairman Mr Gary Godwill said the forum highlighted the importance to develop a consistent vision and strategy for skilled workforce development, in order to address the challenges being experienced on many farms.

"To capture existing growth opportunities, the region needs to address current challenges, including - an aging workforce, declining interest in studying horticulture, and the advancement of technology which requires a different skillset," Mr Godwill said.

 

A recent study by the University of Melbourne, in partnership with Agriculture Victoria, to gain a better understanding of the issues affecting the ability of Goulburn Valley perennial fruit industry businesses to attract and develop appropriately skilled workers.

The study highlighted typical workforce structures and implications for understanding recruitment and career pathways.

It also identifies the industry's preference of internal recruitment pathways is not sustainable, and effectively maintaining a workforce that meets business needs relies on both internal and external recruitment.

There needs to be a regional industry approach to enhance the availability of career paths, including linking with the training sector to ensure industry relevance.

The recent forum offered a constructive environment to discuss the priorities and explore practical actions through the insights and lessons of other skilled workforce development in other states, industries and businesses, including:

  • Growcom - Michelle Templin presented on Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network (QAWN) overview and lessons learnt
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia - Sharyn Casey presented on the national horticultural workforce and engagement programs
  • University of Melbourne - Ruth Nettle discussed the dairy industry's skilled workforce experience and lessons from workforce development officers
  • Jeftomson - Brent Reeve gave the perspective from a Goulburn Valley fruit growing business internship program.

 

Mr Godwill said the approach needs to be collaborative, and with more than forty participants in attendance this should be possible, with a committee to meet twice over the next three to six months, to progress priorities. 

Participants included Goulburn Valley Partnership members, and representatives from Regional Development Australia, Apple and Pear Australia Ltd, Summer Fruit Australia, local councils, Committee for Greater Shepparton, GOTAFE, Department of Education and Training, University of Melbourne, plus individuals from the fruit industry..."

Continue reading the full press release here

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