IN three years' time WA's grain sector will be a sought after industry for employees, complete with training paths to help you become the next CBH chief executive officer or diesel mechanic.
This is the goal of the Australian Grain Institute (AGI) Capacity Building Project launched to a crowd of industry leaders at the Royal Perth Yacht Club by new executive officer Manjusha Thorpe and AGI chairman CBH chief executive officer Andy Crane last week.
In an effort to go beyond the studying of the industry-wide gap for skilled employees, Dr Thorpe will be driving towards modelling career progression paths and creating recognised entry points.
"There's a lot of effort already gone into capacity building, but it has been quite fragmented," Dr Thorpe said.
"There's been work done, but it's the overall picture and making the connections between work already done and doing extra work to make sure that as an entire industry there's a very clear place to go and avenues to take to make sure you can seek out your interest.
"It's that full insight into careers we want and to create something tangible."
Dr Thorpe was announced as the project executive officer earlier this year, following a drive by the AGI to remodel itself last year.
The AGI, which has existed for 40 years, now functions with the aim of holding industry networking events and building capacity within the industry.
It is one of seven councils of the Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) and is funded by a range of industry groups including the Grains Research amd Development Corporation (GRDC), CBH and the Department of Agriculture and Food.
As chairman of the AGI, Dr Crane said the project was being focused on the WA grain industry as a long-term solution to solving the problem of attracting and retaining people in agriculture.
"The work to get to this point has been the realisation so many times that the industry has an issue around attracting people and obtaining the right skills and providing training," Dr Crane said.
"So many people only get that far and no further, but we want to know what the specific things are we need to do to make a difference.
"There's been so many reports on this and we gathered those together and did a review on that and realised that often the issue becomes too overwhelming to tackle."
Dr Crane said it was clear there could be some benefit to the industry through taking on employees leaving the mining and resources sector, however it was not the intention of the project to have such a short-sighted focus.
"It's always been difficult to compete for quality people across the sector against the mining industry," he said.
"We need to be thinking long term around ensuring people see food and agriculture as a really exciting place to work with long careers regardless of the cycle of the industries."
In her speech launching the project, Dr Thorpe indicated the next three months would be a significant "action phase" of the project.
"In the next three months we really want to be spending the time to find options for solutions that people in the industry identify," she said.
"We want to make sure the solutions are the best fit for the problems we're identifying with people.
"It's also about making sure that the entire action of the project is properly founded and set up."
Dr Thorpe said she expected the ultimate result of the project to provide a driving force towards meeting goals set out in the GIWA WA Grains Industry Strategy 2025+.
p More photos from the launch on page 33.