A report on increasing skills and numbers in Australia’s food and agriculture workforce, recommends a national, independent body be created to drive policy in the area.
The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, with significant input from industry groups, finds that there’s a bright future for Australia’s agriculture and food industries, but that job vacancies are less skilled and less attractive to new entrants than they could be.
It’s found that there is no central national body dedicated to tackling that problem, and that’s the first thing that should change, to help the food production and processing industries to continue to play a central role in the Australian economy.
The report says that the agriculture and food processing sectors currently represent 4 per cent of GDP and 10 per cent of exports, and employ more than 500,000 Australians.
Dr John Edwards sits on the Agency board and chaired the committee which produced the report.
He says a more skilled workforce will become increasingly important if Australia wants to take advantage of the global food boom.
“If you’re going to look to a future in which you have substantially increased exports, but of more differentiated products, you’re going to need a lot more marketing skills,” he said.
“On the processing side, it’s highly likely that if Australia’s going to be increasingly competitive in that space, then we’re going to have to become technologically more advanced.”