It’s that time of year again.
Summer holidays are over – festive fun feels like a lifetime ago.
And everywhere, mums (me included) and dads breathe a sigh of relief as little cherubs head back to school.
I’ve heard it said that human beings do not attain their full height until they are educated.
That’s why at AgForce we are renewing our calls for a step change in ag education investment.
Sadly, educating the next generation of ag workers has not been high on the political agenda in recent years – and it’s time that changed.
The closure of Queensland ag colleges, challenges of COVID, and a lack of Government investment in targeted and contemporary training have all left Australia’s largest agricultural state struggling to cope.
And as acute labour shortages cripple production across many commodities, grocery prices are skyrocketing.
The recent announcement of fee-free TAFE courses for industries with labour shortages is a step in the right direction in addressing the problem.
But a fundamental lift in investment and approach is needed if Queensland is to realise its full potential when it comes to the agriculture industry.
Time and again we have advised that traditional educational approaches don’t work for us.
Agriculture training needs to include practical on-farm elements, a significant change in the use of technology such as augmented reality, more geographic diversity in where training is delivered, and a curriculum designed in genuine collaboration with industry.
What’s more, ag education needs to start at primary school. Throwing money at college training is pointless if there are no students interested in a career in ag to begin with.
The good news is, Queensland has long had the potential to be a world leader in food production.
But without skilled workers or stronger Government cooperation on training, it’s likely to remain a missed opportunity.
The time has come for the pollies to do their homework if we are to realise our full capabilities as an industry – they simply must do better.