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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association president and Birch Restaurant owner Renee Wallace has welcomed new courses at TAFE NSW Moss Vale that aim to support the region’s food and fibre growing industries.
The Highlands’ burgeoning reputation as a boutique agricultural hub has been boosted by a TAFE NSW Moss Vale move to introduce a suite of new agriculture courses this month to help local industry meet workforce demand.
While large-scale commercial agriculture has waned in the region in recent decades, an explosion of high-end primary producers – including wineries, truffle farmers, alpaca farms and nurseries – has seen the value of agriculture production in the Highlands grow to $155 million for 2018-19.
During talks with Southern Highlands Key Stakeholders, which has representatives from 14 organisations including Wingecarribee Shire Council, Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association and Destination Southern Highlands, TAFE NSW resolved to offer three new courses for semester two, starting July 20.
The Certificate II and III in Agriculture, and the Certificate III in Performance Horse, are currently open for enrolment.
Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association president Renee Wallace welcomed the new courses and said training the next generation of agricultural and equine industry workers was a critical part of the region’s growth strategy.
“The potential for agri-tourism in a place like the Highlands is enormous and training the future workforce is a key part of that,” Ms Wallace said.
“Having an education stream that feeds into the increased demand for Highlands food and wine is a no-brainer.”
TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Agriculture Jillian Atkinson said it was the first time the courses had been offered at TAFE NSW Moss Vale for almost a decade.
“We’ve had it on our radar for a while to expand our agricultural offerings but the support of Southern Highland Key Stakeholders meant we had great industry backing,” Ms Atkinson said.
“The equine industry is very big in the Highlands and there are job opportunities opening up all the time.
“And you only have to drive around to see how many boutique primary producers are popping up, and with that comes jobs and agri-tourism. The courses will be very hands-on and will be leveraged off our strong local industry connections.”
Ms Atkinson said the Certificate I and II in Agriculture would be a launching pad for young locals to enter the agriculture industry, while a Certificate III and IV were expected to be offered in future to provide pathways for students.
To find out more about studying at TAFE NSW Moss Vale, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.