Farmers in the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley interested in accessing skilled labour are being asked to register their expressions of interest.

Beginning this month the Skilling Queenslanders for Work Project ‘Agricultural Employment for New Australians’ will see 16 job seekers, mostly new Australians, begin a training and industry experience program that will develop their skills to gain and build careers in agriculture. This training is proudly funded by the Queensland Government through its Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.

The program will take 26 weeks to complete with participants ready for work from April 2020. Employers who employ under the project are eligible to access Government incentives of $10,000 to $20,000, subject to employment conditions.

Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) South Queensland Officer, Karen George said participants will undertake a Certificate II in Horticulture, complete the Farm Ready Card training, carry out practical hands on learning through the Mulberry Project, and participate in property visits and work experience.

“Through this Skilling Queenslanders for Work project, participants will receive learning support, get improved understanding of agricultural work and gain current qualifications to work in horticulture.”

“The Skilling Queenslanders for Work project follows on from an Agwork trial held last year which involved three employers and employment of nearly twenty new Australians.

“The Agwork trial project linked new Australians to employment in agriculture providing many people with on-farm work experience as a result.

“The trial highlighted the need for greater education and preparedness of job seekers to ensure long term employment.

“This Skilling Queenslanders for Work project aims to better prepare job seekers, ensuring they have realistic expectations of working in agriculture and have adequate training. The aim is to create skilled, quality employees for employers and develop careers in agriculture for job seekers.”

Two of the success stories from last year’s project include Shadrach, employed by Withcott Seedlings and Zainabu, employed by Bare Essentials. Both have been employed for nearly 18 months and are valued employees.

“I love working here. I learn many things and share with a lot of people, the boss is good,” said Shadrach when we visited him at work at Withcott Seedlings recently. Shadrach said he would recommend working at Withcott Seedlings to others.

Withcott Seedlings HR Manager, Stephen McEnery said, “Shadrach is a diligent employee and a valued member of the team.”

When we visited Zainabu (pictured), working at Bare Essentials, she explained “It is hard to get a job when English is your second language. It is good to work here, they train you, I learn and enjoy my job.”

Zainabu was unemployed before being employed at Bare Essentials where she has since developed her skills.

Bare Essentials Owner, Janne Dipple said, “Zainabu continues to be a reliable employee and an asset to the Bare Essentials team. Zainabu is a pleasure to employ and it’s not often you find people who are keen to learn and be trained in horticulture. It was a really successful project from that point of view.”

QAWN South Queensland Officer, Karen George added both Shadrach and Zainabu are considered ‘success stories’.

“Both have had experience and training in horticulture through initiatives such as the Mulberry Project and Farm Ready. Success stories such as Shadrach and Zainabu are what we are aiming for through this Skilling Queenslanders for Work Project,” she said.

Skilling Queenslanders for Work focuses on developing an individual’s skills, supporting them to begin a learning pathway to a certificate III qualification, and providing direct assistance to those Queenslanders that need extra support to enter and stay in the workforce.

If you would like to know more or would like to get involved, please contact QAWN South Queensland Officer, Karen George on 0408 135 003 or email kgeorge@growcom.com.au

Skilling Queenslanders for Work and the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) are initiatives funded by the Queensland Government.