Aspiring agriculture professionals in the Southern Tablelands are sowing the seeds of a successful career through a TAFE NSW course which aims to provide the essential skills for farming animals or crops.
Year 10 and 11 students from Goulburn High School, Mulwaree High School and Trinity College have commenced the Certificate II in Agriculture through TAFE NSW, which combines their normal school work with a sought-after qualification.
Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said giving students practical skills and work experience while still at high school would help ensure the local agriculture industry could meet the growing demand for highly skilled workers into the future.
"We know agriculture is booming in the Southern Tablelands. Commodity and livestock prices are up, so it's a very exciting time to be entering the industry," Mrs Tuckerman said.
Students may complete the course as school-based apprentices, which allows them to work one day a week on a local farm while being paid. Otherwise, they can study through a vocational program delivered in school with a practical day each term at the TAFE NSW Goulburn working farm.
Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the courses were giving local students a running start to a career, allowing school-based apprentices to "earn and learn" at the same time.
"These students are thinking ahead and exploring what their post-school future might look like, and this course could be the catalyst to kick-start a long and successful career in agriculture," Mr Henskens said.
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said growth is bringing an unprecedented demand for skilled workers, and courses like this show TAFE NSW is well positioned to train the workforce of tomorrow.
"These students will be the agriculture leaders of tomorrow, and this course will give them the practical skills and work experience to make their mark in the industry," Mr Saunders said.
Goulburn High student Amber Sommerfield lives on a 2000-acre livestock property just outside Goulburn and said she hoped her school-based apprenticeship would help her join the growing army of young women plying their trade in the agriculture industry.
"I've always loved working on the property in my spare time, and I thought it would be great to make it my career," Ms Sommerfield said.
"I can't wait to start my studies through TAFE NSW because I know it will give me a much better understanding of the exciting job opportunities in agriculture."
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