Five-year plan to grow Queensland’s agriculture workforce released

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development The Honourable Di Farmer

Attracting, training and retaining workers in Queensland’s agriculture industry is the focus of a five-year plan launched by Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer today.

A joint initiative of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF), Jobs Queensland (JQ) and the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (RJSA), the Queensland Agriculture Industry Workforce Plan 2022-2027 covers the current and emerging workforce needs of the grazing, horticulture, cropping and aquaculture agribusiness sectors.

“In 2020-21 Queensland’s primary industries were estimated to contribute more than $20 billion in total value to our state economy and we want to ensure the sector keeps growing and is ready to take advantage of emerging opportunities,” Minister Farmer said.

“The resilience and capability of this sector to survive long droughts, extensive flooding and COVID-19 disruptions, while continuing to deliver for local and international markets, has been truly impressive.

“This workforce plan will be a welcome sign for our farmers and food processors who have been working hard to find workforce solutions in a rapidly changing landscape.”

CEO of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation Jo Shephard said the future sustainability and growth for Queensland agriculture are dependent on being able to attract and retain a highly trained and skilled workforce.

“As the industry continues to modernise, a skilled and appropriately trained workforce, prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, are critical for the industry to remain competitive,” said Ms Shephard.

“The workforce shortage is having a day-to-day impact on businesses across the agricultural sector. The collaboration between QFF, JQ and RJSA is incredibly valuable bringing key stakeholders together to put our collective shoulders to the wheel on this important issue for our farmers, regional communities and agriculture more broadly.”

Minister Farmer said the plan builds on some important partnerships and investments made by the Queensland Government into the agriculture sector in recent years.

“This includes our Agribusiness Gateway to Industry Schools project, which has engaged with 77 schools this year — up from 32 schools a few years ago — to inform students of the range of career paths available and connect them with industry partners to guide their training and employment plans once they finish school.

“We have also invested $3.4 million for the Agricultural Centre of Excellence at the Bowen campus and $7 million to establish the Rural Centre of Excellence at Toowoomba with a further $1.1 million for stage 2 works there. Construction will also begin this year on the $3.35 million Agriculture and Horticulture Centre at Bundaberg and a $2 million Aquaculture Training Centre at the Whitsundays campus.

“This ensures current and future workers for the sector can access cutting edge training in fit-for-purpose facilities.

“Launching this plan is an important step but the important work is ahead of us. To have government working with a strong and vibrant sector plants the seed but it will take ongoing attention to turn this into a bumper crop of skilled workers and innovative businesses that will keep Queensland produce supplying markets here and around the world in the years ahead.

“The Queensland Government will soon deliver a workforce strategy that reimagines the workforce, it will attract, connect and educate workers and employers to set Queensland up for success now and into the Olympic decade.

“The strategy follows on from consultation with industry leaders, regional stakeholders and thought leaders through the Queensland Government’s Workforce Summit in March and we look forward to releasing it in the coming months.”

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