By Growcom CEO David Thomson

As Queensland’s peak body for horticulture, Growcom is staunchly committed to bolstering collaboration between education, industry and community to develop a skilled workforce for the future.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network and Townsville-based trade training school TecNQ to deliver Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related diplomas to secondary school students.

The North Queensland P-TECH program supports the work schools and local industry groups are doing to help equip students with much-needed workforce skills.

Now more than ever agriculture technicians are expected to be skilled in identifying, integrating, operating, maintaining, and repairing existing and new technologies. STEM subjects could make up a third of the future agriculture workforce in North Queensland in the near future.

The potential roles for STEM students in our industry are many and we are excited by the opportunity to play an integral part in setting them on an industry-supported pathway to a tertiary qualification.

The opportunism that comes with education is particularly important for young people living in communities with high youth unemployment and where the labour market is shifting to a skills-based economy.

Growcom recognises the need to ensure future workers are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to navigate a global and digital age.

Employment trends forecast large scale transformation in agriculture and the demand for new workforce developments is opening up new employment opportunities.

We strongly support the P-TECH model because it allows industry bodies such as ourselves to play an active role in preparing students to succeed in the labour market.

Because the consistency of this work is dependent on support, we thank the Federal Department of Education and Training for engaging the Skilling Australia Foundation to assist local stakeholders to implement PTECH learning programs at 14 pilot sites across Australia.

We hope this partnership in particular will influence the number of students undertaking STEM studies in senior school and open their minds to the career opportunities associated with the horticulture.