FIRST-HAND: Withcott Seedlings compliance manager Joe Shiels talks to participants of the the pilot AgWork tour.
FIRST-HAND: Withcott Seedlings compliance manager Joe Shiels talks to participants of the the pilot AgWork tour. Lachlan McIvor

First AgWork tour offers job seekers a valuable insight

THE pilot AgWork tour - designed to give those seeking a long-term future in agriculture first-hand experience in the field - had lift-off last week.

The employment project is an initiative of the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network and aims to equip job-seekers with the information and skills they will need for a career in the industry, as well as linking them with potential employers looking to fill a hole in their business.

Following an induction and training day on Thursday, facilitated by FarmReady Pty Ltd, participants toured Rugby Farms and Withcott Seedlings on Friday.

QAWN project manager Karen George said the project spawned from their research, which showed an abundance of refugees in the region were seeking long-term careers in agriculture.

The first tour group, which comprised refugees, gained a valuable insight into two of the Valley's biggest operations.

"This is part of connecting those people to employers that are looking for job-seekers ... at Withcott (Seedlings) they've met everybody from the CEO to the operations manager,” Mrs George said.

"They've had a tour around, so they've got a really good understanding of what the jobs are.

"The majority of people (on the tour) have come from rural backgrounds and farms and some owned their own farms and machinery companies. It's about connecting that experience (to those looking for job-seekers).”

FarmReady Pty Ltd director Janne Dipple hoped the participants came away with a clearly defined path to a job in agriculture, noting that most of them were unclear about many facets of workplace law in Australia and their own rights.

More tours are being planned for the near future, with each looking to bring together groups of people with similar needs.

"We just happen to be concentrating on migrants and new Australians for this tour,” Mrs Dipple said.

"But there's no reason why we couldn't do the same thing for students, for Australians, for young people, for older people, for whoever.”

Mrs Dipple said attitude played an important part in the process.

"There is one glaringly big hole in the market when it comes to farm employment and they are the people who see farming as a career,” she said.

"Those that are happy to stay in a base job, they're happy to learn, to be taught, to be stepped through and to get into those roles like team leader or those roles that are experts in certain areas.

"There's a difference between wanting a job until you get a real job, which is what a lot of people say, and actually being really interested in an area like plant science.”

Phone QAWN on 3837 4720 for more information.

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