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Repositioning the image of the red meat processing sector as a desirable career path is the objective of a new awareness program floated at the Australian Meat Processor Corporation conference in Sydney earlier this week.
For decades, processing has been characterised – perhaps unfairly – as a dirty, sometimes unpleasant working environment, creating a deterrent for promising graduates and young people looking at their career options.
The new AMPC-backed program, called “Meet Your Future” is designed to correct that impression.
Program coordinator Robbie Sefton, from Sefton PR, said market research was conducted in 2014 around community perceptions of the red meat processing industry, from the perspective of people who might consider employment in the field.
“The research came back with some really interesting feedback,” she said.
“More than half of the respondents did not know much about the industry at all. The remainder mostly was disinclined to want to have anything to do with the sector, in terms of employment.”
“So there is a very big knowledge and understanding gap there to be filled. This project will be working both with people who do have a positive view about work prospects and conditions in the modern processing sector, plus those who really do not know much about it.”
Ms Sefton said it was up to the industry to start to change the perceptions of “who we are, what we do, and how we do it”, so that it can attract vibrant, intelligent and functional people into the businesses of meat processing.
“The ‘Meat Your Future’ program is about profiling who you are, as meat processing people, and where the industry fits into the value chain,” she told the AMPC conference.
“We’re not looking for ‘movie-stars’ to provide testimonials about life and work in the processing sector, but real and authentic people working in the industry who can tell their positive stories in honest and credible terms,” she said.
The Meat Your Future program will be rolled-out from the end of February.
First graduate program
The AMPC conference also provided the venue for the presentation of the first cohort of graduates from a new Graduate Certificate in Agribusiness program, developed for senior members of the agrifoods sector.
Somewhat like an MBA program, the course focuses on research and work that is already happening in the industry, adding more skills and expertise. The course’s main focus is meat processing, primary production and viticulture.
The graduate certificate program has also provided the opportunity to build relationships between participants and their operations, looking at environmental and social issues facing the sector, preparing for and implementing change, and providing strategic leadership.
“For us in this industry, it’s all about change, and change is about leadership, knowledge and transferring skills and expertise,” Ms Sefton said.
Graduates from the inaugural program included:
- Brett Scoble, plant manager, HW Greenham & Sons
- Chris Adcock, production manager, Teys Australia
- Jeff Davis, plant manager, Northern Cooperative Meat Co
- Glen Langley, CEO, Hawkesbury Valley Meat Co
- Greg Warren, plant manager G&K O’Connor
- Pat Gleeson, general manager, Oakey Beef Exports
- Stacey McKenna, Midfield Group.