THE hunt is now on for the next generation of young school leavers to apply for the AgCAREERSTART 12 month gap year program, and upskill by joining one of the most innovative industries in the world.
National Farmers Federation chief executive officer Tony Mahar said the program saw talented young people learn new skills while assisting farmers fill critical labour gaps.
Last year's inaugural AgCAREERSTART program saw more than 300 people apply to the program to be placed with farmers across the country across multiple industries including grains, livestock, horticulture and dairy.
"The impact of Australia's current labour shortage is already being felt by farmers across the country, with an estimated $22 million in crop losses having already been reported," Mr Mahar said.
"The AgCAREERSTART program is a new way of building a skilled workforce to complement the in-demand skills farmers need and to help innovate industry practices.
"The partnerships forged in round one of AgCAREERSTART have been a huge success for farmers and students alike, with students learning about farm data capture and mapping and operating state-of-the-art machinery.
"Many of the participants are moving out of home for the first time and learning essential life skills such as cooking, communication and problem-solving skills, as well as undertaking training that will help in their future careers such as obtaining a first aid certificate, truck licence or forklift ticket," Mr Mahar said.
Through AgCAREERSTART, participants are employed under award wages on qualified farms for up to 12 months. Participants receive safety training and relocation assistance and have the opportunity to join the farm after their completion of the program.
Griffith, NSW, cotton grower Gavin Dal Broi said it had been a struggle the last couple of years to find labour with Covid-19 restrictions and the lack of backpackers and seasonal workers.
"We've been flat out trying to get anyone to join," Mr Dal Broi said.
"The program has worked out really well. Our participant Julian is learning as he goes, and it's been easy introducing him to the farm. I want to apply for the gap program every year, the more people that we take on means more young people working in ag in the future."
Emma Pretorius is currently completing the AgCAREERSTART program on a dairy farm in Meander, Tasmania. She said her time on Janefield Dairy with with farmers Brian and Michele Lawrence had presented her with a range of new and interesting challenges.
"Ranging from milking early in the mornings to feeding out in the afternoons, every task I've been given has provided me with lifelong skills and values," Emma said.
"I can honestly say the past few months have been the most engaging and interesting months of my life and I'm overly excited for more to come."
Applications for both farmer hosts and participants are now open. CLICK HERE for more information.
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