Ag education dilemma

“We need to engage industry in course development and teaching,” he said.

Delivering education in regional centres would also help to inspire students.

“And we need to stop making excuses,” he said.

“Everyone has known this issue has been there for past 20 years at least and there’s always been a reason why it’s too hard,” he said.

“Let’s make sure we set up something to cater for the needs of the industry that will attract good students, because it is such good quality.”

He said another way to attract the right type of people to the sector was to build a world-class reputation.

“First, we have to get students interested in wanting to be trained,” he added.

“And we can do this in lots of small ways, but I love to hear leaders speak more positively about how much fun we are having in agriculture.”

Mr McGuckian said agriculture needed students that were work-ready and willing to live in rural Australia. Specialised skills required in the sector also included science, maths, economics, social science and decision-making.

“Students need to know how this fits into a complex framework,” he said.

“Complexity is when things have unknowns, like farming. Climate and prices are difficult to predict.”

Darren McGregor, who is the principal at Marist College, said the whole paradigm of education needed to be changed to inspire more collaboration with industry.

That change had already begun at his school, where a trade training centre had been established and students could undertake certificates of agriculture.

“What I say to industry is: you come and work with us and engage our students,” he said.

Students at Marist are heavily involved in showing cattle at various agricultural shows, with local farmers offering up their stock to be trained at the site.

“Two light bulbs can go off in that situation,” he said.

“Firstly, kids can start to see agriculture as exciting and secondly, industry sees the value in that system.”

He said industry and educational providers needed to look more closely at partnerships.

“Let’s change the paradigm of education,” Mr McGregor said.

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