New minister offers boost for dairy skills

By Rodney Woods

The state’s new agriculture minister has marked her first trip to northern Victoria in the job by announcing $35000 in funding for an industry-led project aimed at boosting jobs, training and skills across the dairy sector.

Agriculture and Regional Development Minister and State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes visited the Odgers family dairy farm at Ardmona on Friday with Dairy Australia and Murray Dairy representatives.

The project, Defining Future Dairy Industry Service Sector Skills, has been driven by industry and was identified by the Goulburn Regional Partnership.

It aims to identify future statewide dairy skill requirements in line with the rapidly changing environment the industry now operates within.

The funding, from the Regional Skills Fund, aims to build local capacity and resilience as well as creating jobs.

‘‘We’re partnering with Dairy Australia and Murray Dairy in relation to a project that’s all about identifying the skills of the future and the innovation that’s needed to make sure this wonderful industry becomes even more sustainable and really attractive for people who are looking to move into the industry in the future,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘The dairy industry is so important to Victoria.

‘‘We produce more than our fair share of the national production of milk and it’s so important that we protect the industry and help it to be sustainable moving forward into the future.

‘‘Of course it’s not without its challenges. We have climate change, we have dry conditions and farmers report they have trouble getting the skills that they need to have the resources to help them adapt to those challenges.

‘‘So it’s really important the work is done so we can identify the skills that are required now and the skills that can adapt and develop into the future to ensure this wonderful industry can go from strength to strength.’’Murray Dairy is leading the project and has engaged a consultant to undertake market analysis of Victoria’s dairy services sector and map current and future skills needs.

‘‘We’ve identified skills and capabilities of the industry across a whole range of areas as a critical priority going forward and something that the industry is really keen on proactively addressing,’’ Murray Dairy strategic project manager Amy Fay said.

‘‘This project is the first step in really understanding what the current and future skills are and then starting to look at recommendations about how we might be able to support that,’’ she said.

‘‘This first phase (of the) project is really a scoping study — a research piece.

‘‘Then we also have a developed proposal for a second phase, which is looking at, amongst other things, how we implement the recommendations from the first project and how we can leverage existing projects such as the free TAFE investment that the government has already announced.’’