Agricultural Workforce Development Project

The essence of the Agricultural Workforce Development (AWD) project is to establish pathways for students from Year 9 into careers in agriculture/horticulture via School-Based Apprenticeships/Traineeships, industry experience and tertiary study. This all reflects the focus on “strengthening a capable [agribusiness] workforce, adapting and diversifying agriculture in an environment of change, and embracing learning for life” by the then Victorian Government Department of Planning and Community Development in 2010.

The AWD project is based upon a prototype established at Mansfield Secondary College by Julie Aldous, a former teacher and now Industry-School Liaison Officer (Agriculture/Horticulture) at NELLEN.  The project depends on strong links between schools, TAFEs, universities, industry bodies and businesses, and community. Students begin their AWD journey with school-based agriculture curriculum and gain further exposure to the sector through work placements with local agribusiness employers/farmers.

NELLEN anticipates the project will have multiple benefits for students, the sector and regional communities:

  • It enables knowledgeable, skilled and well-networked students to fill short-term peak periods of agribusiness employment cycles without jeopardising their pathways to further study/employment.
  • Students who don’t pursue careers in the sector still gain experience and insight into their rural and regional economy, food and animal production and the relationship between healthy land management, the environment and “real food”.
  • Experienced farmers and employers become role models, finding outlets for their passion by sharing their skills with local students and, by extension, their communities.

NELLEN is investigating the potential for transferring this workforce development model into other industries, such as health and human services, manufacturing, transport and logistics, and tourism, as well as outside the geography of our local region.

For further information on the AWD project, contact Julie Aldous, Industry-School Liaison Officer (Agriculture/Horticulture), on 0412 640 146 or email