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Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee
Higher education and skills training for agriculture and agribusiness
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Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee
Siewert, Sen Rachel
Gallacher, Sen Alex
McKenzie, Sen Bridget
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Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee
(Senate-Tuesday, 15 May 2012)
CHAIR (Senator Back)
- Senator McKENZIE
Content WindowEducation, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee
Higher education and skills training for agriculture and agribusiness
HABGOOD, Mr Richard, Consultant, Dairy Industry People Development Council
VILE, Mr Rodney, Executive Officer, Dairy Industry People Development Council
CHAIR: I welcome Mr Vile and Mr Habgood from the Dairy Industry People Development Council. Do you have any comments on the capacity in which you appear?
Mr Vile : My substantive role is Manager, Industry Education and Leadership, for Dairy Australia.
Mr Habgood : I am an agricultural consultant working for Dairy Australia, and I helped pull together this submission.
CHAIR: Would you like to make an opening statement to the committee before we go to questions?
Mr Vile : I am here today on behalf of the Dairy Industry People Development Council, which was formed by Dairy Australia and the Australian Dairy Industry Council to provide strategic leadership into the dairy industry's workforce development strategy.
People are a critical resource for the industry. The attraction and retention of people as well as their ongoing training and development will have a substantial influence on the prosperity and viability of not just the industry but also the rural communities that they support. It is essential that any discussion on the industry workforce is across the supply chain and includes farmers and their employees, the farm service sector and the manufacturing sector.
Labour and skill shortages are emerging across the supply chain. Identifying drivers to attract and retain people in the industry as well as the articulation of career pathways is crucial. A key component of this, as outlined in our written submission, is accessible and affordable education and training. People development has been recognised by the industry as a priority for well over a decade, as evidenced by Dairy Australia's direct and significant investments in areas such as the establishment of the Dairy Industry People Development Council, dairy extension through the Dairy Extension Centre, the development of the People in Dairy extension program and the commencement of developing a workforce development strategy for the whole industry.
Over recent years, the industry has invested significantly in education and training through the establishment of the National Centre for Dairy Education Australia, which is an alliance partnership between Dairy Australia and 11 government TAFE colleges across the country. This provides dairy-specific training from certificate II through to advanced diploma in the farm sector and more recently through to the graduate certificate level in the manufacturing sector.
Currently a key impediment for national delivery of training is multi-jurisdictional funding and delivery arrangements which inhibit cost-effective delivery of training, especially at the higher qualifications levels. There are a number of important issues for the future of education and training in the dairy industry and I hope we will pick up on these during the discussion with the committee today.
Senator SIEWERT: I want to go to the comments you make about the thin training markets and the problems that it generates in Australia. Can you explain that a little bit more for me and what you think we can do to overcome that?
Mr Vile : When you look at the dairy industry—and I am only speaking from the dairy industry's perspective—by far the bulk of the industry sits within Victoria. Last year there were approximately 4,588 individual farms within Victoria. That allows a training organisation to have the numbers to have sufficient staff from certificate II through to the advanced diploma level and to have them skilled up to deliver that training across that level. When you go to places like Western Australia, where we have 170 farms, it is very hard for an individual TAFE college to maintain enough capacity within its workforce and the cost of delivering programs, perhaps one or two people, especially at those higher levels. We are looking at how to overcome that through the NCDEA alliance but running into those cross-border issues.
Senator SIEWERT: It is particularly hard for Western Australia, as you said, where our numbers have been going progressively down. How do we deal with those cross-boundary industries? In the east you have got the east coast but we have not got that country either.
Mr Habgood : But it is not even that simple. Even in Victoria, where there is a high concentration of dairy farmers, there is an inherent problem in agriculture of farmers dispersed across regional areas. So there is also the issue of travel, for them to actually get to a centre to do study. With the diploma and advanced diploma, you might want to talk about doing something online. Last year for the diploma and the advanced diploma they had probably a dozen students online across Victoria. That is what we mean by the thin markets, and that drives issues of cost. How do you actually deliver a course for numbers as low as that? It is not like trades such as plumbing and electrical where they all live in Melbourne and can come to Holmesglen or something like that.
Senator SIEWERT: It is not just how you deliver it; it is also how you maintain the expertise of people to provide the training in the first place, surely.
Mr Habgood : Yes. Teaching capacity is a major issue.
Senator SIEWERT: So how do you think we should be dealing with that? There are obviously the online issues.
Mr Vile : One of the ways that the dairy industry is approaching it is through the NCDA alliance, so that we can actually share expertise. As Richard was saying, we are also looking at how we deliver the diploma and the advanced diploma into other states. We are talking seriously at the moment with South Australia and Tasmania, who will receive the training from Victoria in an online capacity. The capacity within those satellite states, for want of a word, is mixed on whether they can do the assessment or whether they will be relying on Victoria to do the assessment. We had a trial late last year in which Queensland and South Australia participated in a unit. They went through the process but did the assessment regionally.
Senator SIEWERT: How did that work?
Mr Habgood : It is working very well. It is basically a synchronous online approach—in other words, the students will come online at the same time. The feedback we have had is interesting. Some people would still like to come into a regional location, but as a group they can still do it online. But a number of people we have trialled it with say the online stuff at home is fantastic. They say: 'I can do it online. I can go and feed the calves for an hour or so and I can come back and do some more work.'
Another way of dealing with the thin markets, particularly the teaching staff, is through the Victorian TAFE, GOTAFE, and through Dairy Australia, who put a lot of support into developing learning resources. We now have learning resources specifically tailored to the dairy industry, from certificate I through to certificate VI. Interstate people just do not have the capacity to do that so, through the alliance, they can all now have access to those learning resources. We are now looking at the next step, which is how we can give them better access to teaching capacity.
Mr Vile : As part of the NCDA alliance, we have been bringing the trainers together once a year for two days to focus on their learning and development of key points where we have identified gaps in their knowledge.
Mr Habgood : They can tap into specialist teachers who have been trained by the dairy industry on mastitis, milking sheds or whatever. They do not actually have to be teaching staff within the TAFE; they will often be people who have teaching capacity in their regional area.
Senator SIEWERT: I want to go to your recommendation 4, which is about impediments to national course delivery. You say that you recognise the benefits, and we have talked about that. You then say:
The inquiry gives consideration to options to address the impediments to national delivery in the context of a state funding VET system.
I would like to go there because you are now talking about delivering in South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.
Mr Habgood : We currently have a project underway with funding from the Agrifood Skills Council to develop and deliver a national diploma and an advanced diploma in dairying. Some of those funds have been put into developing these online resources. One of the projects I am managing is trying to deal with these impediments in a state based system. TAFE in Victoria cannot access funds for a student who lives in Queensland. It is still a work in progress but we are working through a way in which, under the NCDA alliance, we will have what we call the home RTO and the delivery RTO. The home RTO will recruit the student and manage the relationship with the student—it might be a student in Queensland—and mobilise the state fees, and then the delivery RTO, which to date has been out of Victoria, has a responsibility to deliver. There are issues around who is going to do the assessment and how you are going to split the funding. That is still a work in progress, and it is not easy. But it seems to be a way in which we can deal with it in a very imperfect world.
Senator SIEWERT: That is an admin cost there and an admin cost to you. Why can't that student just relate directly to you so that there is just one?
Mr Habgood : There are two issues. The rules do not allow it. The state based system—
Senator SIEWERT: Imagine we were in a perfect world.
Mr Habgood : The other thing we are pushing is that it is important for a local provider to build and maintain that relationship with that local student. With some of the courses, particularly the lower level courses interstate, those TAFEs actually have the capacity to do them—tractor driving, four-wheel drive. They have that capacity, so it is about trying to maintain that relationship with the local student.
Mr Vile : One area where it has been critical is in the manufacturing sector, where the specialist training currently only exists in Victoria, especially at the higher end, so what has been happening is that the training of people from interstate is either being subsidised directly by the companies or by Goulburn Ovens TAFE itself, because we cannot access state training dollars for that.
Senator SIEWERT: Do you feel that you are getting enough students coming through, or is there a demand for more?
Mr Vile : What we are hearing from the farming community is that they are looking for people. What we are hearing from manufacturing and the service sector is that they are looking for people. We want those people to be trained. There will be some that probably do not at the moment understand the value of training, but we are looking at it as a component of that whole-of-workforce strategy. The big one is: where are the people coming from and how do we attract those people first and then get them into the training?
Mr Habgood : I think the figures are in the submission. If you look at the GOTAFE figures—that is the Victorian based figures—since Melbourne university exited from their VET sector delivery to agriculture, the student contact hours for the farm sector by GOTAFE have quadrupled over five years, from about 100,000 student contact hours to 400,000 student contact hours. So there has been a growth, and with a concerted effort, high-quality learning resources and whatever, you can grow the market.
Mr Vile : That is on page 12, for your reference.
Mr Habgood : That is another issue with the interstate stuff and the curriculum. We cannot get the stats nationally on dairying, because there is only one unit for dairying—cert III dairy specific. Because it is not recorded in the databases, we cannot identify which students come from the dairy sector and what courses they are doing, which is another problem with the curriculum issues.
Senator SIEWERT: That takes me to recommendation 10—because it is about data collection and things like that—'preparation of a collective workforce development strategy'. You talk about the need for projection of current demand and supply. Who would you see as doing that?
Mr Vile : The dairy industry has commenced. The board of Dairy Australia recently approved a project which was put up by the people development council to look at how you go about implementing a whole-of-workforce strategy across the industry. That is focused on looking at pre- and post-farm gate and the service sector. I think the investment is around $700,000 in the next financial year to trial the development of a workforce strategy in two dairy regions in Australia, one in Victoria and one interstate, working with Dairy Food Safety Victoria in the manufacturing sector and working with a specific service provider into the dairy industry to look at the drivers, the impediments and the levers that allow you to pull together a whole-of-workforce strategy.
Senator SIEWERT: Would you see that a dairy industry workforce strategy could be, or should be, part of an overall agribusiness workforce strategy? There is absolutely a demand, for example, for graduates produced in Australia each year. Depending on which document you read, it is between 2,000 and 4,000. This issue is not just a dairy issue.
Mr Habgood : No. I think we made a recommendation about the need to take a workforce development perspective to develop a workforce development strategy. We gave some clear dot points about what we reckon a strategy should contain. The issue then becomes how you cut and dice it. We would say that probably doing it by industry is a good way to cut it. There are a whole lot of things that focus around industry. You can actually use someone like an industry development body, Dairy Australia, for example, who can then provide a focus and coordinate a whole lot of resources.
Senator SIEWERT: I understand the point about needing to focus on individual industries, but if we take a collective approach to get a broader understanding of the whole of agribusiness we would potentially be able to develop it. We would be able to share resources and not pinch people from one another, for a start. I totally accept that we need to get an understanding of each of the industries, but I am wondering how much potential there is for keeping the focus but doing it across the whole of agribusiness.
Mr Habgood : I think that what we have said in one of our recommended criteria, or the elements that you might have if you have a plan, is that you can have a strategy—and I think that we said you need a strategy and a plan, and that was quite deliberate—but you actually need to translate a strategy into a plan and it has to be operational. Ultimately there need to be funds and projects and work and rubber hitting the road. You may well want to say: let's have a national framework and strategy that then gives the potential to drop it down for implementation. We can cut and dice it however you want, but the industry—and I think other industries—would like to say: if we do it at an industry level, we can make this sort of stuff happen. Some industries may not have that much of an interest in it—dairying has a strong interest in it.
Senator SIEWERT: The issue here is—and we were listening to Julian Cribb before and we have heard repeatedly from other witnesses—that this is a food and fibre problem generally, and if we are going out there to try to solve the dairy industry problem we will be going out to solve the wheat or wool, or whatever other problem there is. One of the issues that has been raised with us is a communication strategy particularly to get more R&D and to get more students interested. We could do that collectively as part of that strategy.
Mr Habgood : Can I change the focus from 'we solve'—the federal government or you guys—to how you empower and support sectors to do the work? That would be the emphasis that I would change to.
Senator SIEWERT: I understand what you are saying, but you do not want to be going out 'awareness raising'—or whatever you call it—we need to engage the urban community. It has been put to us repeatedly that if we do not start and if we do not engage that section of the community—and 85 per cent of the population is now urban—we collectively as a food and fibre agricultural community are not going to get the engagement and the resources and the interest et cetera. So I am saying: where do we start? Where does the collaboration across the process start and finish before we then get to industries working to solve their own issues?
Mr Vile : I agree with what Richard is saying. Within the industry lines, there is a lot of information and data about what the drivers are, what the benefits of working in that industry versus another are. But we are all drawing from the same declining rural communities for labour and we are all looking at what the messages are for people leaving town to live in rural communities. The common messages overarching that are consistent nationally, but there will also be a fair bit of regionalisation there as well. But how do you deliver it? I think it is that delivery along common messages. Is it worthwhile approaching secondary school students, or do you actually need to target the 25-plus age group? Where are you going to get the best bang for your buck as far as people who will join in industry and actually use it as a whole-of-career strategy? That is the bit that I think will be common, whereas the actual delivery of how-to would be along industry lines.
Senator SIEWERT: Thank you.
Senator GALLACHER: I have just been browsing your website and I see that you raise a significant number of dollars from an industry fund, and there is a corresponding component from the government. Where does the other part of the industry—the people who actually buy the product and market it in Asia or Australia—sit? What is their contribution?
Mr Vile : To education and training?
Senator GALLACHER: To research and development. Given that they are probably based in New Zealand and China et cetera, they must be in a position to add some favourable—
Mr Habgood : I probably need to clarify your question a bit. We are talking about the value chain.
Senator GALLACHER: So you levy the farmers.
Mr Habgood : Farmers pay the levy.
Senator GALLACHER: Excellent. I got that.
Mr Habgood : And that has been negotiated with the industry as the best way to do it. But the manufacturers are also very involved, and they actually access that pool of funds from the state and the matching federal funds. The mechanism by which it is raised is from farmers. The manufacturing sector does have a strong involvement in the research and development, education and extension program. That is basically the domestic manufacturers and those who have got overseas involvement as well. So there is quite strong involvement from the manufacturing sector in research, development and extension.
Senator GALLACHER: What about the international companies that are operating?
Mr Habgood : In Australia?
Senator GALLACHER: Fonterra. What I am saying is that those people are setting the market up, basically, for export, and a significant amount of our product does go overseas. They have expertise in New Zealand, they have expertise in China, they have expertise all over the world, I presume. What part do they play in research and development in your industry in Australia?
Mr Habgood : They will participate in what we would call pre-competitive research, or industry benefit or public benefit research. It depends upon the assessment as to how much industry benefit or private benefit there is. The dairy industry invests in generic research in the manufacturing sector. Then it is up to the private companies, like Fonterra and Murray Goulburn. If they want to operationalise those generic research findings into specific products, they fund it themselves. There has been a lot of debate over the years, and we have got to a position where you say, 'Whose role is it? Is it the role of government or the role of the industry collectively? Who are going to be the beneficiaries? Is it going to be the private company, the industry collectively or the broader community?' Where the benefits flow, you then say, 'That is where you should put the funds.'
Mr Vile : In the education area, we have used some companies as a route to market to trial new products. One was around a milk quality online delivery, where we used an existing product that was owned, effectively, by one company, and we put that online and used their networks to actually trial that product. We were then able to take that and use that right across our learning system but use that technology which was put through and supported by one particular factory. A large number of the companies that deal directly with farmers also have field officers who undertake different day-to-day activities with their suppliers. But they also lead and support other training and development that can sometimes be with DPI—Department of Primary Industries—and with extension with us as the NCDEA or completely independently, depending on what they identify as the needs, what messages they want to sell and where they see issues for their farmer clients.
Senator GALLACHER: I am still struggling to understand the role of these very large companies—Parmalat, Fonterra or whatever they may be. Do they invest in research and development or do they cherry-pick it from the various regions that they operate in?
Mr Habgood : Both and all of the above.
Senator GALLACHER: But they are not in a partnership with the dairy industry?
Mr Habgood : Yes, they are. At a precompetitive level, or a generic research level, they—particularly the larger ones—are actively involved in a research effort. I used to work in the Department of Primary Industries as an investor in the agency. There was a collective program around cheese manufacturing or cheese technology research. Dairy Australia put funds in, our agency put funds in, and individual dairy companies put funds into a pool. From that pool, a range of generic research was funded. Then it was up to the individual dairy company partners to say, 'Ah, yes, we like those research findings there. We're going to take those generic research findings and take them into our laboratories and do our own thing there and no-one else is going to see it until they see the product hit the market.'
Senator GALLACHER: What I am trying to get at is: if, for example, they have operations in New Zealand, Australia, China and Europe, is the research and development available or is it tightly guarded?
Mr Habgood : The generic research is generally available, because typically you will have research scientists who are doing the research and they will want to publish that research. The board I was on would make a collective decision from time to time on some of the research. We had rules that basically said the collective group of investors could put a two-year moratorium on that research being published. So it gives the group who have put money into an opportunity to exploit it.
Senator GALLACHER: Given that you are sort of like the Murray-Goulburn and there are a number of manufacturing operations or factories that the dairy industry operate, you probably would not be as pressed on your labour attraction as other sectors because you have a community around what you do and there is a factory with hundreds of people.
Mr Habgood : As part of putting the submission together we actually went back to the dairy manufacturing processing and said, 'What are the issues around labour?' They said, 'Yes, we are from time to time struggling to get suitably qualified staff who are prepared to come and live in the country, even regional Victoria, to work in dairy farming.'
Senator GALLACHER: But does the caveat 'suitably qualified' say more about the person saying it than the person applying for the job? I could say that every day of the week—I struggle to get suitably qualified people to work in my electorate office—but that is me being subjective about their abilities.
Mr Vile : I do not know that we could specifically say that for sure. I received a phone call—I think two years ago—from a dairy company asking if we had a list of people who were looking for work, because they were struggling against the mining industry and anyone who wanted a job was working in the mines. We do not have a list. So we cannot quite answer that. But across pre-farm-gate, post-farm-gate and the service sector—and, as we were talking about earlier, the figures in agricultural graduates are telling us that—the ability to access people who seem prepared to work in agriculture—or dairy in our case—is declining.
Senator McKENZIE: As a proud Victorian from South Gippsland and the north I am very aware of the importance of dairy.
Mr Vile : And we both live in Warragul.
Senator McKENZIE: There you go! I just moved out of Leongatha. My question goes to a similar area to Senator Gallacher's: where does the research get done? Your particular submission focuses predominantly on the VET sector.
Mr Habgood : Yes.
Senator McKENZIE: I know there is a dairying centre in La Trobe, which is where I assume a lot of that research would be done.
Mr Habgood : Herman Spangenberg and those people, yes. DPI co-invest with La Trobe, and there is also Dairy Australia. It is focused very much around the dairy CRC. It tends to be strategic, blue sky stuff.
Senator McKENZIE: Similar to GRDC. The role of the CRC is to do that blue sky sort of stuff.
Mr Habgood : Yes.
Senator McKENZIE: So that is done as a partnership, yes?
Mr Habgood : Yes. One of the banners is the dairy CRC.
Senator McKENZIE: Given the issues in Victoria around dairying and the questions that end up being researched, and we have heard today about applied research versus blue sky research, there are lots of different things that need to be looked at. There are issues for research around water use—engineering solutions on farms and getting more efficiency out of irrigated agriculture. Where is that research being done? Is the research specific to dairy or is it a generic research topic that dairy borrows from?
Mr Habgood : It is a bit of both. The research at La Trobe, as I said, tends to be more strategic research, whereas the research on water use efficiency in Victoria will probably tend to be done at Tatura with DPI. Some of it will be generic; some of it will be specific to dairy. So there is a team. I have been at DPI for five or six years now, but when I was a program manager in those sorts of areas it was Tatura that did a lot of the water use efficiency research. Some of it will be generic and some of it will be done in horticulture. The researchers will be looking to see what is happening in horticulture, which tends to be the leading edge of water use efficiency.
Senator McKENZIE: So when we are looking at pastures, which is also an important input into the process of making milk, where is that work done?
Mr Habgood : That will be done at Tatura and also at Ellinbank. DPI at Ellinbank will be the pasture—
Senator McKENZIE: So DPI is doing all this work. There is no work being done—
Mr Vile : The actual detail of where Dairy Australia invests in research I am not fully across and I do not have that with us at the moment. I am focusing on the VET area. I am not across the detail of the research side of things.
Mr Habgood : Dairy Australia typically does not have any research capacity in its own right. It will co-invest with other agencies such as DPI and CSIRO. So in Victoria it will be—
Senator McKENZIE: I guess I am looking at this Australia wide. Is it the only place where we are doing the research?
Mr Habgood : As you are probably aware, the PISC R&DE capacity was rationalised—well, we did not use the word 'rationalisation', but there was a capacity adjustment. There has been some rationalisation, but there are other institutes around Australia focusing on this. There is TIAR down in northern Tasmania. I think there is still some capacity in South Australia. But Victoria said, 'We will specialise in dairy research and then use extension as a way of delivering the research findings to other states.'
Senator McKENZIE: Have you done a capacity study around your industry's research needs and future workforce availability?
Mr Habgood : This is outside the scope of this inquiry.
Senator McKENZIE: Well, not really.
Mr Habgood : I can give you my personal knowledge—
Senator McKENZIE: Sorry, it is actually not outside the scope of the inquiry, when we are looking at agricultural education and the future prospects of agribusinesses, to look at who is going to be conducting the research to derive productivity gains.
Mr Habgood : Dairy Australia and the dairy industry has over many years developed strategies and plans to identify priorities for research, translating them into specific operational activities for research projects.
Senator McKENZIE: My question goes to who is going to do your research in 20 years—the people. When we look at how many bachelors are graduating with a major in dairy, who is going to do your postgrad research?
Mr Habgood : In our submission there is actually a section there about R&D capacity. We cited a review that Australia did commission about the future capacity needs for research. I think there are some quotes in there from it.
Senator McKENZIE: Yes, there are.
Mr Habgood : Essentially, my reading of that report was, yes, there are some emerging gaps that we need to keep an eye on, but we actually have processes in place that will allow us to actually deal with them as they are emerging. So it is under this PISC banner, particularly of R&D capacity, that allows the industry to deal with any potential emerging gaps. The dairy industry has relationships with universities such as Melbourne University, La Trobe and some other universities. There is a fairly well-oiled process of funding PhD students and master students to actually mobilise the few remaining science graduates and also graduates from other disciplines. There is a fairly well-oiled pathway that the dairy industry through Dairy Australia supports, with scholarships and whatever, for PhD students.
Mr Vile : In the manufacturing sector there is a program to identify individuals with qualifications such as engineering who do not identify the dairy industry as a career opportunity, to give them a view and a taster as to what types of careers that they might have within the dairy industry.
Senator McKENZIE: That probably goes to one of my later questions, because I did spend some time with some food processors. You go into universities and have a chat to the engineers? How does that work?
Mr Vile : That is one for the vocational training and education group. They identify and promote the opportunity for a scholarship and they run through a process of making people aware of the different options available. They generally come from a range of qualifications which do have a direct role within the dairy industry. We need those specific skills such as engineers, chemists and things like that.
Senator McKENZIE: We have heard a bit about the fragmentation of the various industry voices in terms of looking at agricultural education more widely. Are you able to comment from the dairy industry's perspective on that at all?
Mr Vile : Sorry—the fragmentation?
Senator McKENZIE: There are a lot of different industry voices advocating and having a conversation around this. Earlier submissions today referred to the fact that we have been talking about this problem for a long time. I am hearing that the dairy industry has things in place and that it will all be okay.
Mr Habgood : Having been involved in the dairy industry for many years, my observation of this people development stuff and education is that the industry is having a red hot go. My assessment of it would be that we are probably leading the pack in this kind of stuff. However, it is a work in progress. There are significant opportunities but there are significant impediments. We talked with one senator earlier on about some of those impediments. It is a work in progress. I think we are making some good progress, but there are still a few things to sort out.
Senator McKENZIE: I will go to two success stories, which I would like you to get on the record and flesh out for everyone and those are the Cows Create Careers and Discover Dairy programs, which are direct industry engagement with secondary schools. I do not think we have heard from any other industry, which is why dairy is here. Have you seen an increase in engagement at that level and transfer et cetera? Can you talk everybody through that?
Mr Vile : With that investment into the secondary school level, especially that higher level, we do not really understand at the moment what the translation is into people who want to leave school and get a job within the dairy industry. That is something that we have flagged that we need to understand more, and we have mentioned here about the need to really understand VET in schools and does it relate to on-farm management or in the industry employment. So that is something that we are still working on. We do not have a definitive answer but we need to look at that more closely to understand what that translation is.
Last year across Australia at that certificate III level, we saw a reduction in the number of people enrolled in cert III, aged 19 years and younger and a significant increase at the 25 to 44 year age group. What is driving that change? Are we writing and investing at this level and does it translate? Talking to careers people and making people aware that dairy can be an employer of choice, but does that translate, how does that translate and what is the value of that investment? Do we need more? Do we need to tailor it?
Mr Habgood : It is important to understand where some of these things came from and, following on from Senator Siewert's comment, I am worried about the top-down approach to workforce planning. The Cows Create Careers idea, as I remember it, came out of the Lions Club of Korumburra and the GippsDairy. There have been a number of these things—things like into dairy, the Young Dairy Development Program—have been generated at the regional level with the dairy industry regional development programs. Some of them work; some of them do not, but when they do work, like Cows Create Careers, the rest of the industry says, 'That's interesting. Can we have a go at that too?' and then it starts to become a national program. There is this bottom-up stuff that is important from regional groups through industry.
Senator McKENZIE: But is industry taking a lead role in engaging with educators, with community?
Mr Habgood : Most definitely. I think we mentioned a thing called 'Into Dairy'. Once again, it came out of the western districts, one of our regional development programs, and it was about how do we try and tap into that older age group of people and expose them to dairy. They have also got another thing called 'A Taste of Dairy' where you get some people who are interested in working, particularly in the dairy farm sector, and take them through a dairy experience, take them through a TAFE program, match them up with farmers and give them an opportunity to have a go on a farm. It has been quite successful.
Mr Vile : Dairy Australia recently has undertaken to invest in part-time careers coordinators in each of the dairying regions employed through the regional development programs, so we are putting those in place at the moment to help value add to programs like Cows Create Careers and also engage at school level with careers coordinators and school careers days and things like that.
Senator McKENZIE: Does that have an evaluation built into it?
Mr Vile : Each one is done regionally about how they do it. At the moment we have not; we are just rolling it out but we will be looking at what the outputs are at a regional level and trying to tailor that. We have done that while we are also developing this national workforce strategy, so we are quite conscious that we did not want to sit and wait until that strategy was released. We will tailor the deliverables and outputs according to what we see in that strategy.
Senator McKENZIE: The percentage of research dollars available that dairy gets that are targeted towards dairy or that dairy receives—do you have any idea?
Mr Habgood : What do you mean the percentage?
Senator McKENZIE: Of the total research dollar available in ag, how much does dairy get?
Mr Habgood : We would have to take that on notice.
Senator McKENZIE: That would be fantastic.
Mr Habgood : We can sort it out nationally, and also the dairy industry every four or five years does its own survey of: where are the funds coming from?
CHAIR: That has been most interesting. Thank you very much for a very interesting presentation and the submission you put to us.