In four years Jake Kennedy from Orange in NSW has progressed from an enthusiastic Elders trainee, gaining experience at Wagga, Emerald and Longreach, to the manager of Elders’ Clermont branch in Central Queensland.
In a similar timeframe Sadye Wines, originally from Victoria’s Gippsland, has undertaken an Elders traineeship, receiving hands-on training at Horsham and Roma, and is now employed in a key livestock role with Elders at Ballarat.
Both exemplify the success Elders is having in attracting and developing talented staff through a unique traineeship program introduced six years ago.
Twice a year Elders welcomes 8 to 10 trainees into its ranks, who receive practical training under experienced Elders staff for 18 months at branches around the country. Trainees who successfully complete the program graduate with a Certificate IV in agriculture and also have the opportunity to apply for permanent roles within Elders.
Applications for what will be the eleventh intake of trainees are now open until January 31.
But before recent school leavers rush in applications straight away, a word of guidance: Elders prefers applicants to have at least a year or two of life and work experience before applying for this program.
This is not a course for people still wondering if a career in agriculture is for them
This is not a course for people still wondering if a career in agriculture is for them, but rather for those who have already set their mind on pursuing a career in one of the many areas in which the Elders business operates, such as livestock sales, finance, real estate, water and grain trading etc.
“We want applicants to have an idea of what they want to do,” Elders national livestock manager Chris Howie explained to Beef Central.
“We are not a TAFE where you come and learn and then work it out as you go along. We want them to come and tell us, ‘I want to be a stock agent or I want to be in finance’ and then we can really help them get to that point.”
And, as Jake and Sadye’s experiences attest, it is also essential that applicants are prepared to move long distances from home from the outset.
The first steps trainees take in this program are often 1000km or more from home.
“One of the biggest criteria is that we move trainees around to different locations, which can be anywhere in our network throughout Australia, so they need to be able to do that,” Elders Trainee Program Coordinator Simone Dand said.
“We prefer applicants to have worked away from home for six months at least, mainly because we do move them around once they start.
“They also need to know this is a career and an industry they want to work in, it is not ‘a come and see if you like it’ type of program.”
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Jake and Sadye had both worked on cattle properties in northern Australia before applying for the Elders traineeship program.
Jake said he had benefitted greatly from Elders’ commitment to training.
“Elders throw everything at you,” he said. “Whatever you want to learn, they will put you in the right place for you to learn that and learn it properly.
“It doesn’t matter if it is the agent in the next town or the CEO, they will talk to you freely; there are no restraints, they have always been happy to help with any situation.”
Sadye said moving to different areas and learning about different production systems had been a highlight of her training experience.
“From Horsham to Roma was quite a big jump in the diversity and what you learn from different agents.
“It was also very hands on, not class-room based, which I found really good.
“I would recommend this to others, certainly. A lot of people aren’t dedicated to actually having to move from home. But I tell them, why not, it is only for 18 months of your life, and who knows who where it will take you?”
The Elders Trainee Program has been recognised with Federal Government Australian Training Awards in recent years, and program coordinator Simone Dand was named the 2017 Australian Livestock and Property Agent’s Mike Nixon Award winner.
- Applications for intake 11 are now open. Elders is looking for applicants with a passion for agriculture, effective communication and interpersonal skills, effective communication and a strong work ethic. To apply, email a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org before 5pm 31 January 2018.
Click to view short video on Elders’ traineeship program: “An integral part of our trainee program is the fact that we’re using experience from inside the business. We’re not going to a third party provider who is teaching out of a text book. Some of these people have been in the business for 35-40 years and are passionate about passing on what they know to the younger generation” – Elders National Livestock Manager Chris Howie.