Spotlight on Agicultural Education

The city of Bendigo, in the heart of regional Australia will be the venue for a crucial conversation on the future of agricultural education in Australia. 

La Trobe University in partnership with AgriFood Skills Australia is hosting the summit, to be held at Bendigo on Thursday, 20 February 2014. The summit will discuss how educators and training providers can better meet the needs of a dynamic and rapidly evolving agricultural marketplace. 

The summit will bring together some of the key educational institutions of Victoria and NSW, including La Trobe and Charles Sturt Universities with Bendigo, Wodonga, Sunraysia, Goulburn Ovens and Riverina TAFEs, along with some of the two states’ most important agricultural companies and employers. 

Summit organiser, La Trobe University’s Associate Dean-Regional for the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, Katherine Legge said that educational institutions have a critical role to play in the future of Australian agriculture and she sees this summit as the beginning of new conversations and collaborations. 

‘Agriculture is more than just agricultural science, its agricultural economics, its bio-technology, its nutrition, its agricultural communication, and I think there is a growing understanding and increasingly urgent need for our educational institutions to be more responsive to the marketplace and to better meet the needs of such an important industry.

‘This summit will be an important starting point to putting aside our competing interests and starting the conversation, talking to representatives from the agricultural and agrifood sector about their needs and starting to map out a plan of new educational priorities and pathways,’ Dr Legge said. 

According to AgriFood Skills Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Arthur Blewitt, the AgriFood 2013 Environmental Scan starkly highlighted that both the agrifood and the tertiary education sectors are facing their most defining period for this century. 

‘The issues raised time and time again through our consultations have at their heart the urgent need to transform the capability of our people and the capability of our business models and supply chain, as our current skills base and business practices will not be sufficient to allow us to compete in the emerging Asian markets that will be critical to Australia’s future prosperity.

‘There is an urgent case for better collaboration between government, industry and educators in pooling our talent and expertise and designing more contemporary and blended degrees and qualifications that better reflect agrifoods emerging markets and that combine agrifood business management, supply chain innovation and cultural competence,’ Mr Blewitt said. 

Keynote speaker to the summit is Senior Fellow at RMCG Nigel McGuckian, who has worked as an agricultural consultant to rural communities, agricultural industries, farming businesses and families for the past twenty five years. 

Mr McGuckian believes that our educational institutions have in the past struggled to deliver students that understand the complexities of contemporary Australian agriculture. 

‘Our institutions have in the past often been guilty of producing generalists; students that are well qualified in one specific or narrow discipline but who don’t understand the broader agrifood industry with all its complexities.

‘Australian agriculture desperately needs smart and passionate graduates, but graduates who understand its complexities of farm and business management, food security, supply chain management, even working in a difficult climate. How else can we have informed discussion and debate and sound decisions on issues as important as foreign investment, food security, GM crops, even the closing of SPC if we don’t produce graduates with this holistic knowledge,’ Mr McGuckian said. 

ENDS


For more information on the AgriFood Skills Australia please contact:

Ron Forrester Senior Manager, Communications and Marketing AgriFood Skills Australia

P: 02 6163 7214 E: ron.forrester@agrifoodskills.net.au


For media enquiries please contact:

Tom O’Callaghan, Media Assistant, La Trobe University

T 03 5444 7415, M 0408 900 469

 

For other enquiries please contact: 

Melissa Scott P: 03 5444 7917 E: melissa.scott@latrobe.com.au  


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