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Agricultural extension work placement program

The Agricultural Extension Work Placement Program 2020–2022 is delivered by the Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (led by Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF)) and funded by the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.

What does the program do?

The program seeks to improve agricultural capacity through increased extension to support producers to advance or maintain their sustainable management practices that reduce nutrients, pesticides and sediment flowing from catchments to the Great Barrier Reef.

The program provides:

  • Professional development for both graduates and mentors, enhancing the support provided to producers.
  • Enhanced extension coordination by providing an opportunity for participants to come together and build stronger extension networks across commodities, organisations and regions.
  • Succession planning with experienced extension staff helping the next generation build strong relationships with farmers that are important to retain.

Trainees, recent graduates and early career professionals within the first year of their career, are provided with employment and training opportunities with host organisations identified by QFF. These organisations are external to government and include private suppliers, industry bodies and natural resource management organisations.

At the end of the program graduates have a holistic understanding of the issues impacting agricultural practices and the skills and tools to work with producers on sustainable farm management practices.

Highlights

To date, the Queensland Government has funded 20 young graduates mentored by industry experts to develop work-ready skills and networks and become part of the fabric of local communities from Burnett Mary to Cape York.

The success of the program attracted Australian Government funding for an additional nine graduates and three participants were largely self-funded, bringing the total number to 32 graduates.

All trainees have gained employment in their industries, most with their host organisation or in the agricultural extension, farm advisory and research services or the natural resource management sector.

Nineteen organisations across the grazing, sugar cane, horticulture, banana and natural resource sectors have hosted the graduates.

Host organisations value the program as it provides hand-selected graduates, offers extensive training opportunities and builds participants’ capacity to deliver projects that improve farm profitability and productivity. About a third of the host organisations have hosted two or more graduates. One mentor noted an effective extension officer normally needed seven years of experience but the program “fast-tracked this by three years”.