Griffith citrus grower Vito Mancini has welcomed the news of a new subsidised list of 17 skills courses, announced this morning to help plug gaps in the state’s workforce.
This effectively means it’s going to be cheaper to learn how to shear sheep, handle livestock, grow fruit or fix cars and planes.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the VET courses - which also include grain management, social media marketing and dance teaching - had been added to the NSW Skills List, which identifies the VET qualifications funded under the government’s Smart and Skilled program.
The Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business said all courses identified were crucial to reviving regional NSW.
The new VET list was unveiled at the Department of Primary Industries’ research center at Griffith, and, appropriately, several agriculture-related courses are part of the future-proofing push, which will be reviewed twice a year to ensure subsidised training is available where it is needed most.
“We are also supporting training in many other areas including financial services, aircraft maintenance, construction, community development, automotive repair, social media marketing, healthcare, and cultural areas including Aboriginal studies,” the NSW Nationals leader said.
“The addition of these 17 qualifications, including six that offer traineeships, means they will have thousands of dollars shaved from their fees to allow more people to get training to get a quality job and to help employers build skilled workforces to grow and succeed.”
Mr Barilaro said a biannual review would involves consultation with NSW Industry Training Advisory Bodies, TAFE NSW, peak provider bodies, employers and government agencies and considers data on labour market trends, priority skills and regional needs.
Vito Mancini is a 36-year-old energetic and influential citrus farmer.
Vito and his cousins - Leonard and Anthony Mancini – operate Redbelly Citrus, a farm operation which specialises in blood oranges. Vito says the farm has 50 per cent of the blood orange market in Australia
When setting up the farm, they looked for land that would help give the same characteristics as the best growing area for blood oranges – Catania in Sicily.
They say their success is down to a combination of family knowledge and help from the NSW Department of Primary Industries who has spent a lot of time and resources in mapping Australia’s climate to the famous region in Italy that they’ve used to guarantee an impressive ability to produce the deepest and inspirational colour in our blood oranges.
Vito also says there is a need to improve skills in the farm workforce and farm management skills “are lacking”.
“It’s no longer as simple as putting a shovel in the ground or just picking fruit off a tree,” says Vito.
“These days you have sensors everywhere and advanced technology is used for practically everything from irrigation to pest controls and general production.”
He’s grateful that he studied Information Technology at Charles Sturt University in his post-school years before coming back to the farm. That knowledge now serves him well and he advises anyone contemplating modern day farming to upskill.
Stefan Scarfone, meanwhile, is 28 years old and a third generation farmer in the Griffith region.
He and his older brother have recently taken over running the family farm from their father who is still involved but taking a lesser role.
Like many farms in the region, their farm was started by his newly-arrived Italian grandfather in the 1950s and initially he grew a range of fruits and vegetables.
Stefan says when he was growing up the farm diversified into cattle and onions and now grows solely wine grapes for the local wineries and oranges.
When Stefan left school he took a break from the farm and worked at a local winery but also completed certificate courses in agriculture.
He’s also done a few short courses in various farm skills like “chemical use”.
He and his brother are keen on expanding their farm operations while also ensuring the operations are sustainable. As a result he is looking to study further in the area of farm management and is interested in tackling one of the new additions to the Skills List – a Diploma of Production Horticulture.
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