When the State Government handed down its 2020 budget last week, the absence of funding for the Longreach and Emerald Agricultural Colleges was a significant blow to the industry and to the future training of workers.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the State Treasurer, in delivering the budget, had acknowledged agriculture was essential to leading Queensland out of its COVID-induced debt, so the lack of any sort of commitment was astonishing.
“Without urgent action the currently idle agricultural colleges risk being lost to the industry forever,” Mr Guerin said.
“The timing couldn’t be worse. Young men and women from all over Australia used to move to Longreach and Emerald to study agriculture related subjects.
“Can you imagine what that might have looked like now, with many more people moving to or staying put in regional communities to avoid the city crush during COVID.
“The Government is at risk of missing out on a huge opportunity, not only for agriculture, but potentially for tourism training, and commercial opportunities as well, by not allocating seed funding to modernise these facilities.”
Mr Guerin said that AgForce had a lengthy history working to increase education into agriculture and that most recently they had participated strongly as part of the National Agricultural Workforce Strategy, doing all they can to highlight the workforce issues currently faced by agriculture.
“We are prioritising the training needs of industry to make sure they are met and that includes reinvigorating the Longreach and Emerald colleges,” Mr Guerin said.
“Providing industry-relevant training is vital to ensuring agriculture’s current and future workforce is ‘job ready’ with the skills needed in their employees.
“Agriculture has been deemed an essential industry. If the State Government is indeed serious about agriculture playing its role as a key driver in the nation’s post-COVID economic recovery, which we believe they are, then they must find a way to return these colleges to their former glory as part of a broader approach to supporting quality training for all agricultural workers.”
For media comments contact: AgForce CEO Michael Guerin 0488 002 092