42% of Tasmania’s agriculture workforce – Gen Y’s by 2020

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Agriculture in Tasmania is an important industry.  There is a high level of confidence in the state’s industry, best known for its food safety and clean, green production systems.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounts for almost 10% of Tasmania’s GDP (compared to around 2% nationally) and is the state’s largest sector.  Dairy, and the state’s share of national milk production, has also grown steadily over the past 10 years.

Tasmania’s cooler climate and higher rainfall also benefits the state’s stone fruit and viticulture opportunities.  As forestry investment schemes come to an end, new doors have opened for land to return to agricultural production.

Tasmania’s agriculture workforce

The Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association (TFGA) is currently working with partners to design, implement, and deliver projects that fit with industry needs.

This comes off the back of the Tasmanian Government’s announcement of Agrivision 2050.  The state has made a commitment to ‘grow the farmgate value of the sector by tenfold to $10 billion per year, by 2050.’

A key component of the plan is to renew skills and training, as well as workforce development for the primary industry sector in Tasmania.

Tasmania was successful with a number of grants as part of the National Landcare Programme. Some of the successful applicants include:

  1. Project: DairyTAS Board Incorporated

Purpose: Supporting Sustainable Dairying in Tasmania (North)

Amount: This project is targeted towards new and expanding dairy farms in Northern Tasmania. It will involve the delivery of the Fert$mart program, which is an established program that involves the roll out of the dairy industry’s national nutrient management guidelines.

Location: Burnie, TAS 7250, $44,500

  1. Project: Derwent Catchment Natural Resource Management Committee Incorporated

Purpose: Derwent Catchment Pasture Information

Amount: This project will establish a pasture information hub through the collection of data from a number of different farms across the catchment area.

Location: Hamilton, $31,360

More than $137,000 was also granted to property management planning (PMP) for a variable climate in Penguin, plus projects to upskill livestock producers in Launceston, and maximise profit and produce in the Tamar Valley.

With the agricultural industry in a major state of growth, there are significant workforce gaps into the future.

The South East VIC and Tasmania Regional Committee is one of the local initiatives promoting sustainable agriculture.  Their work will see coordinated and collaborative services delivered to farmers – to help adapt to variable climate conditions and discover opportunities to develop programs.

And, there’s the Dairy Climate Toolkit.

It’s a joint partnership between Dairy Businesses for Future Climates (DBFC), the Australian Department of Agriculture, University of Melbourne, and Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.  The outcome suggested that to minimise the potential impacts of climate variability, dairy farmers would need to continue to improve their management skills and continue to adapt their farm systems to manage future climate risks.

Skills Tasmania highlights the capabilities outlined in the Tasmanian Primary Industries Workforce Development Scan (2015/16) created by Sally Murfet, Agriskills Project Officer at the Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association.  The skills that future farmers will need include professional and operational capabilities, as well as business management and technical knowledge.

As the average farmer age is increasing, there is a need to attract younger workers.  The report outlines that Gen Y’s will make up 42% of the future workforce by 2020, so we need to act now with attraction and recruitment, knowledge transfer, succession planning and workforce transition strategies.

If you’d like to chat about workforce development strategies for your industry or region, please contact Wendy Perry via wendy@wb.switchstartscale.com.au.

January 2017

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