CURTIN University has started its consultation process with key industry stakeholders as it determines the course outline for a new agribusiness degree planned for the Muresk Institute.
The two-year associate degree was announced by the State government in August, 2017 and has been flagged as a pathway to the three-year Bachelor of Agribusiness degree offered at Curtin University.
A cross section of more than 40 agricultural employers and agribusiness stakeholders met at Curtin University last month to brainstorm ideas for the course outline, set to be released in the middle of this year.
Curtin vice-chancellor professor Deborah Terry said the meeting gave the university a good indication of what industry employers were looking for.
“The participants provided very valuable input about the essential knowledge, attributes and skills that a graduate from an agribusiness associate degree will need,” Ms Terry said.
“They also provided some very useful suggestions on how Curtin and the agribusiness sector can collaborate to produce graduates with these attributes.”
Farm Machinery and Industry Association of WA (FMIA) chairman Brad Forrester said topics including business, agricultural data, precision agriculture and marketing were each suggested as potential subjects for the degree.
Mr Forrester said there was a huge demand for improved training opportunities for those entering the farm machinery sector.
He said the meeting left the FMIA with an optimistic outlook on the direction of the course.
“Our industry has got a huge lack of employees available so I think it’s definitely a good move having a course, especially run through Muresk,” Mr Forrester said.
“I guess the bigger picture of it is to fill the void they have between students coming out of ag schools or school in general, and then having those couple of years where maybe they’re not ready for work placement.
“Obviously Curtin’s angle is to engage greater enrolments in their agribusiness side of things, but it’s good that they’re recognising that there is a gap there.
“Mining will obviously spike and a lot of these institutes will run with that but whilst the money that’s getting pulled out of agriculture is not as big, it’s more of a staple and every year we seem to be very similar – our employments are the same, the money they’re generating out of our industry is the same – so I think they’re hoping to create a better backbone through that.”
Mr Forrester said workplace learning was a major focus of discussions, with strong support for the degree to foster work experience opportunities for students.
“It was suggested that whilst they’ll work in conjunction with Muresk, they could also work with businesses such as machinery dealerships or local rural traders to make sure that students are seeing how it works out in the field,” he said.
“That’s certainly something that industry is craving.”
Ms Terry said industry consultation would continue throughout the next few months, before the course outline was released ahead of 2019 enrolments.
She said a meeting with more than 30 school principals was planned for Friday, March 16, where key themes and desired graduate attributes would be discussed.
“It is anticipated there will be further consultation with stakeholders including through regional visits,” Ms Terry said.