FARMVIEW Season 2 Episode 6
Episode 6 - Rural Skills Connect
Rural Skills Connect, Goulburn Valley
The Rural Skills is a state government funded programme through Regional Development Victoria and it is about helping farmers get qualifications to fill skill shortages in a regional or local area. It is really funny because farmers think they do not have any skills because they have worked on the farm all their life, but what they do is they have an enormous amount of skills and they just have not got the piece of paper, the qualifications, to get them that next job. There are many opportunities out there. There are a lot of skill shortages in the regions. So transport industry have a lot of skill shortages. People in engineering departments have a lot of skill shortages.
The thing that the businesses realise or understand about farmers is they have a great work ethic. So those businesses really look forward to employing farmers. They understand the engineering side of things, they understand the bookkeeping side of things, they are really down to earth sort of people. They have good problem solving skills. They do not understand themselves how valuable they are to the community and to be able to use that with a qualification that they may not have and I may be able to help them get that, any areas that they want to look at and have an area of interest, we will certainly explore the opportunities for qualifications.
There are some myths around making change in your life and for farmers, I think one of those myths is "I have always worked for myself and I do not think I could work for another bloke", and when we dove a little bit into peoples' life experiences, there are plenty of examples of times where at the school working day or working with the ergonomist – all sorts of things like field days where they have demonstrated to themselves, if only they could look, that they can work really well with other people. I find the success stories have been based around people who have taken small steps that are manageable and they have been on a journey. It is a discovery, it is not "one day I am a farmer and the next day I am not and I lose everything about me that was a farmer". It is a discovery about their potential and the capacity and things they could do differently tomorrow that they had not thought about today. Really the best way to start to get down that journey is just to take the first step.
Farmers or people in general do not like asking for help and often they leave it too late to ask for help. So the help that I can give them will only be a small step towards what they want to achieve in the long term, but it is about understanding where they are at at the moment and then understanding where they can go to. So the opportunities that can be presented to them and then you work from there. I was actually at an orchard one day and the fellow was down the orchard and I went to see him and he said "look I have just about had enough of this" and I said "look let us go home and we will grab a stubby and have a bit of a talk about it". So we had a bit of a talk about it. I was able to book him to a couple of short courses that would help his self-esteem. From then he was able to look at other opportunities outside the farming area and he is now very successful in what he is doing.
I really enjoy seeing people understand their own capacity. It is all fine and well for me or anybody else to say "I believe you can do it", but when you see the light switch on and that people understand their own capacity, that is really good and I have confidence that they will be able to go on and develop a new part of their life and their kids will look back at it and learn and, yes, that is how we handled that and that was really good and that is going to help me when I am faced with the same sort of decisions in my life and it might be just changing from one career to the next.
The Rural Skills Connect programme works very closely with other government agencies as well as Centrelink, the rural financial counsellors, but it also works with local government and the local government community development areas and they often can tell us what areas are hard hit by the drought. We can then go out there and provide some information and opportunities for those people in that area.
If you want to know more about this programme, contact your industry grower association or the DEPI customer service line - 136 186.