GRAIN is the “heavy hitter” in the agriculture industry, with strong demand for a more skilled and smarter workforce, according to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
The minister made the comments last week at the launch of the Careers in Grain project that aims to lure more people to the grains industry.
“So many people see agriculture pursuits as something that you are born into,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“We need to make it understood we are talking about an industry that has traditional skills of working in the land, but there is so much science that is absolutely involved in every aspect of agriculture,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“Grain is the heavy hitter in agriculture in terms of export earnings and it is important that people understand that you don’t have to be born into a farming family – there are amazing jobs out there.”
Ms MacTiernan said the new State government was “very focused” on rebuilding the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) as part of its merger with the Fisheries and Regional Development departments, forming the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development from July 1.
“There is a change in direction that has come with our government and we are very focused on rebuilding DAFWA and its research and development in deep collaboration with universities and industry,” she said.
“We believe that our primary industries department needs to be more than a regulatory function, it really has to bring that whole culture of R&D and long-term expertise that can feed into the rest of the supply chain.”
Careers in Grain replaces the AGI Capacity Building project which was formed in 2014.
Careers in Grain executive officer Manjusha Thorpe said the project included the launch of a new website to “serve as a hub” for people interested in pursuing a career in the industry.
She said the website would highlight the importance of these careers and the role they played.
“In particular tertiary and VET students will be able to understand what is involved in these career pathways, what career progression is available, and what qualifications will help aid career progression, along with where the qualifications can be obtained,” Dr Thorpe said.
“The remit of Careers in Grain is to promote the wealth of exciting, high-tech and rewarding jobs in the WA grains industry and to put them at the forefront of people’s minds, particularly among those people who may not traditionally consider a career in agriculture.”
It is understood there are six jobs for every student of agriculture studies, with the grains industry looking for candidates from a wide range of backgrounds including in engineering, arts, data sciences, research, commerce and law.
CBH Group chief executive and project chairman, Andy Crane, said the project was supported by the four key pillars of the grain industry – government, academia, growers and business,
It is funded by government and industry partners including Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), DAFWA, CBH Group, Murdoch University, Curtin University, Rabobank, Emerald Grain, The University of Western Australia and Muresk Institute.
Dr Crane said these organisations had an interest in attracting and retaining “the best and brightest” to every level of the grain supply chain, from paddock to processor.
“Speaking from the perspective of businesses, it is essential that we attract and retain the very best employees to our organisations,” Dr Crane said.
“Employers are the largest beneficiary of the Careers in Grain initiative, and we all need to continue to play our part in encouraging people to enter the grains industry and our grower communities.”