FARMING FOCUS: Avoca property owner and TAFE NSW Moss Vale agriculture student Maddi Austin is one of many students flocking to TAFE NSW to study agriculture this year. Picture: Connor O'Shea
TAFE NSW is helping a new face of farming take shape in the Highlands, with females comprising a record 70 per cent of current agriculture students at TAFE NSW Moss Vale.
It comes as the once-male dominated Australian agriculture industry continues its workforce transformation apace. According to recent Department of Agriculture ABARES figures, women now account for about a third of agricultural workers.
Highlands mum-of-two Maddi Austin, 26, is one of many local women eyeing a career on the land. She enrolled in a Certificate III in Agriculture at TAFE NSW Moss Vale to give her the practical skills and experience to make a running start into the industry.
Ms Austin was working at a cosmetic clinic when a yearning to work outdoors and contribute more to her family’s 10-acre hobby farm in Avoca prompted her to seek some hands-on training.
“We were starting to discuss getting a small herd of livestock and I just decided, you know what, I’m going to enrol at TAFE NSW,” Ms Austin said.
“The course is just fantastic; it’s really hands on and we’re even planning to go to a sheep property soon to learn mustering, shearing and drenching.”
Ms Austin hopes to forge a career in the livestock industry once she graduates.
National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) president Fiona Simson, the first female president in the organisation’s 40-year history, said the NFF’s goal was to double the number of women in agriculture’s leadership ranks by 2030, adding TAFE NSW was an important pathway for aspiring ag professionals.
“The NFF has identified increasing the representation of women as key to achieving agriculture’s goal to be a $100 billion industry by 2030,” Ms Simson said.
“We want to see more meaningful change toward gender diversity in the agricultural sector and we know that TAFE NSW is playing an integral role in helping to attract female students and train the next generation of women in the industry.”
TAFE NSW Moss Vale agriculture teacher Jamie Kay said attitudes towards women in agriculture had changed dramatically in recent years.
“There’s nothing that women aren’t capable of in farming and in many ways, they can be more effective than men in the job, particularly with their attention to detail and attitudes to caring for livestock,” Mr Kay said.
“There really is no better way to launch a career in agriculture than a TAFE NSW qualification.”
Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428