Skills shortage all the talk at ag careers expo + pics

Eric Barker, 13/06/2022

Students from school across Northern New South Wales travelled to Tamworth this week for Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School’s careers expo.

WITH many sides of agriculture keen to secure workers into the future, companies have lined up to pitch themselves to high school students across Northern New South Wales.

Tamworth-based Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School this week hosted a careers expo, with students from across the area making the trip to engage with potential employers. With the industry booming off the back of high commodity prices and good seasons, plenty were keen to talk up its prospects.

More than 45 prospective employers, educational organisations, Universities and industry experts were on hand. The biennial event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID 19 restrictions, meaning the last event was held in the middle of a widespread drought across the eastern states.

But Farrer’s careers advisor Robert Arranz said the tide had turned since 2018 and the students were heading into an industry with a skills shortage.

“We’re coming off three years of bumper crops for most people and they are just starved of workers,” Mr Arranz said

“We’ve had a record number of exhibitors wanting to show their products to the kids and ultimately put them in employment. Close to 50 percent of our students will end up in agriculture.”

Mr Arranz said plenty of students at the school had picked up confidence from the recent good years.

“They’re jumping out of their skin to find work and they can be picky about the jobs they go into because there is so much work around,” he said.

“Employers seem to be receptive to ideas about they find that work – whether it be a gap year or some sort of qualification.”

Students keen to go into ag

Year 12 students Shannon Charters, from Dubbo, and Harry Mamone from Barrington Tops said they were both keen to go into the agricultural industry.

“I am keen to go to university, but I don’t know if I want to do it straight out of school,” Mr Mamone said.

“I’ll probably take a gap year and work on a station somewhere, before going and studying. I would like to study something in agriculture.”

Farrer students Shannon Charters and Harry Mamone.

Mr Mamone said he was keen to head back to beef and sheep property after studying.

“I’d like to study a bachelor of agriculture, probably at the University of New England or University of Queensland at Garron,” he said.

“But my family have run the property for generations and it is in my blood, so I would be keen to go back there one day.”

Students keen to head north

Some of the Northern pastoral industry’s biggest players were at the event – including AACo, NAPCo and the AAM Investment Group, with a percentage of students heading north each year.

Naomi Evans from Farrer’s Angus stud program said many students doing a certificate III in agriculture and pursuing jobs on stations.

“A lot of our boys are looking for opportunities up north on the big stations and end up either being stock and station agents or some type of station management,” Ms Evans said.

“That has been a trend at Farrer for a long time, a lot of our old boys are already up there and there is such a network for our students to find jobs.”

Ms Evans said more students from non-agriculture backgrounds were looking into agricultural careers.

“We’ve been trying to push agriculture to students from cities for a long time, but I think lately we have been getting more interest,” she said.

The students in Ms Evans agriculture run an Artificial Insemination program for the school’s Angus stud – with the bulls being auctioned off later this month.

Mounted police at the ag careers day in Tamworth.

Sheep dog demonstrations were given at the ag careers day in Tamworth.

Some of the big northern pastoral companies were at the Tamworth careers expo.










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