ON-GOING access to job ready and skilled people for a sustainable grains industry is the focus of a new, industry-supported project, focused on building and implementing a comprehensive capacity building model for the WA grains industry.
The project was developed as the Australian Grains Institute (AGI) Council became increasingly concerned about the issue of diminishing workforce capacity, and the WA grain industry's ability to attract and retain sufficient, suitably trained workers across all parts of the value chain.
The AGI, one of the seven Councils of the Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA), has appointed Dr Manjusha Thorpe to drive this initiative.
Dr Thorpe brings a broad and strong skill set to GIWA to deliver the capacity building project to partners and the grains industry.
Dr Thorpe has spent 18 years working in engineering, project management, research and consulting roles in a range of industries, including the fertiliser and agricultural processing industries, most recently completing her PhD on identifying the knowledge, skills and training that enable the scale up and commercialisation of new technologies.
"Throughout my secondary and tertiary education, I have carried out projects and conducted field trials on heating, drying and refrigerating stored grains," Dr Thorpe said.
"After living and working in Australia, the UK, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, I am now excited to apply my experience to building workforce capacity in the grains industry in WA."
An AGI-commissioned review of the available literature confirmed the problem, and a feasibility study confirmed the need to take an industry-led approach, focusing on the WA grains industry, but scalable and transferable.
"After engaging with key players in the WA grains industry, it was apparent they agreed, and their support has enabled the project to get underway," Dr Thorpe said.
Key supporters of the project are the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Department of Agriculture and Food and the CBH Group.
Further funding has been received from Curtin University, Murdoch University, Rabobank and the CBH Grower Advisory Council, and associate funding from The University of Western Australia, the Muresk Institute, Emerald Grain, Bunge Grain and Summit Fertilizers.
Dr Thorpe will continue to work with funders and potential stakeholders to deliver relevant outcomes to their business.
"The AGI will continue to engage with funders and key stakeholders to ensure the project will deliver outcomes to support their businesses and the wider industry," she said.
"This will be supported through project outcomes including a clear and on-going understanding of WA grains industry capacity, constraints and drivers; by clear communication of exciting career pathways and opportunities in the grains industry; working with industry to ensuring workers are appropriated skilled and suitable modes of training are developed; and by delivering a model of career progression, facilitating pathways for prospective workers to enter the industry and for individuals already employed in the industry to transition into new roles."
Strategic oversight for the project will be driven by a Board, comprising skills-based members drawn from funding partners.
An official launch will take place on April 23.
p For more information, or to engage with the project, Dr Thorpe can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or
0400 708 230.