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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

The Role of Extension and Farm Employment

Name of Leader:

Ruth Nettle

Names of Participants:

Sam Simpson, John Bagshaw, Gavin Ingliss, Ian Tarbottom, Linda Harley, Glen Miller, Liz Mann, Heather Shaw, Mandi McLeod, Andrew Craig, Megan Connelly

Main points of discussion

Issues in farm employment identified by participants:

  • Horticulture, cotton, dairy – have different issues (casual, large numbers, skills, high turnover, seasonality)
  • Skill training for employers and employees about employment
  • Poaching of staff by others after you have trained them
  • Group training agencies often don’t understand the issues of agriculture and often mismatches result
  • Employment relationship often not focussed on
  • Supply of interested people often low
  • Need suitably qualified professionals

Role of extension:

  • Help employers identify their own problems in employment (help them “re-frame” their view) and support change in employers and employees within the employment relationship
  • How can extension really get to the relationship?
  • Help people that “match” employers and employees be more aware of agricultural issues
  • Help employees traverse the industry and help in their skills in the employment relationship
  • Help source new people for the industry
  • Find and work with the organizations that have a role in employment
  • More research needed on turnover
  • Support private sector role in training and development
  • Source dollars from organizations for projects in this area
  • Work one to one – but avoid representation issues by having independent funding (somehow??)
  • Source professionals to help in this area
  • Provide information and skills to employers and employees in traversing employment.

Support establishment of learning groups for learning about employment (rather than just training).

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

  • Learnt more about the issues for different industries
  • Realised that people want to act in the employment area to support change
  • We have decided to form an e-mail network to keep each other connected with what activities are going on in the employment area in each of our areas (research and materials and training, etc) – the aim being to support each other in our own activities in the farm employment realm.
  • We realised it is a big and multi-faceted area that needs more discussion and thought about action – but we do acknowledge a role for extension – and the nature of this role is still a bit hazy – so more work is needed here.

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