Feedlot sector needs more training, career options | Comment

Feedlot sector needs more training, career options

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Better training and clearer career paths for feedlot workers are required in the feedlot sector says RaeLea Foley from the Livestock Collective.

Better training and clearer career paths for feedlot workers are required in the feedlot sector says RaeLea Foley from the Livestock Collective.

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The feedlot sector need better training and more career options.

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WE need better training and more career options in the feedlot sector

After working in Australia's largest feedlot and in several smaller privately owned operations, I've come to the conclusion that across Australia we need a much greater emphasis on training for those who're already working in feedlots and for new staff entering the sector.

In my experience, there's not nearly enough investment in employee training or employer career pathways within the industry.

When I first entered the lot feeding industry, I was not given any yard training or shown the best techniques when handling cattle or working in the yards.

I was simply instructed to "go out the back and move those cattle up".

I was simply instructed to "go out the back and move those cattle up". - RaeLea Foley, Livestock Collective

No one showed me how, nor was I shown the best places to be standing to avoid injury or increase better flow of movement.

While I'm sure some safety induction procedures have been introduced at most feedlots, attitudes like that were a very common occurrence.

For an industry that's worth $4.6 billion to the economy and employs 2000 people directly, it's time for the sector to consider what might be done to provide better training as people enter the industry and as they progress through their careers.

Here's some of the areas I believe we should be investing in that will lead to better outcomes for the feedlots and their employees overall:

- Offer on the job training and continued learning opportunities. Run training workshops with industry leaders, vets, trainer assessors and create programs with leading hands so they can train new employees as they enter the workforce.

- Educate in the yards. Offer opportunities for everyone to learn new cattle handling techniques, how to move cattle within yards or preparing for drafting/inductions.

- Feeding work as a livestock hand. Run a workshop over the course of a few days or a week providing different yard scenarios to equip livestock hands with the knowledge on what ration is fed to cattle and why.

- Greater medical knowledge for workers. Offer a workshop with local vet clinics to provide everyone with skills to identify and treat sick cattle. Use visual aids and real on the job training to teach everyone to identify what illnesses need to be treated. Teach new industry personnel how to identify cause of death in a feedlot.

- Job-swap opportunities. Allow individuals who express and interest in another area to experience the role for a day. Such as a livestock hand experiencing a day with the feed team, and vice versa.

I have personally seen this in feedlots, where people who're wanting to transfer to other areas have not been provided the opportunity by management to see if the desired role suits them.

It can only improve the company and industry as a whole, by having people skilled across multiple areas of lot feeding.

There is a noticeable gap within the lot feeding industry regarding the training available to those individuals pursuing leadership and management roles.

Livestock hands often express a desire to be leading hands but there are few, if any official pathways to promotion within individual businesses or within the wider industry.

I have personally been in this situation because I was deemed "not skilled enough" for the role, despite carrying out obligations of a leading hand while working on the livestock team.

Feedlot companies should be investing in their employees, as the backbone of their organisations.

With more investment, individual workers across feedlots in Australia, in all regions, would then have the opportunity to progress and succeed in current, and in desired roles.

- RaeLea Foley is a member of the Livestock Collective, an organisation giving voice to the livestock supply chain.

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