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Tafe NSW Helps Women Boom in Agriculture

Woman farmer with digital tablet on a background of harvesters. Smart farming concept.

The future of farming in the Central West region involves boosting the number of women in the industry according to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and TAFE NSW is proudly skilling this new workforce. 

NFF president Fiona Simson, the first female president in the organisation’s 40-year history, said their goal was to double the number of women in agriculture’s leadership ranks by 2030. 

“Progress reports from our Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program show we are well on the way to achieving this goal, if not knocking it out of the park,” Ms Simson said. 

“The NFF has identified increasing the representation of women as key to achieving agriculture’s goal to be a $100 billion industry by 2030. We want to see more meaningful change toward gender diversity in the agricultural sector and we know that TAFE NSW is playing an integral role in helping to attract female students and train the next generation of women in the industry.” 

While the Australian Bureau of Agriculture, Resource Economics and Sciences indicate women comprise only 31 per cent of workers in agriculture, TAFE NSW already boasts a relatively high proportion of female enrolments in agribusiness courses at 47 per cent. 

TAFE NSW Bathurst graduate Esther Werner studied a Certificate IV in Wool Classing and the 21-year-old has been working as a wool classer and shearer right across Western NSW, currently based in Wellington. 

Last October, after less than 12 months shearing, she proudly reached a personal best, shearing 212 sheep in one day. 

“Completing the Certificate IV in Wool Classing at TAFE NSW has helped me in more ways than I thought it would. It gave me the hands-on skills to be more confident with my work and I really enjoy what I’m doing,” Esther said. 

“The course was very flexible as I could work part-time and study when it suited me. The teachers at TAFE NSW were really supportive and had a lot of personal experience working in the wool industry to pass on.” 

TAFE NSW Agriculture Team Leader for Western NSW, Fiona McCauley, said as NSW’s leading provider of vocational education and training, TAFE NSW was uniquely positioned to arm women with the hands-on, practical skills they need to develop successful careers. 

“There are many opportunities for rewarding agricultural careers, and our skills-based courses allow women to hit the ground running in local industries and stay living and working in regional areas,” Ms McCauley said. 

“Many of our agricultural sectors across NSW are experiencing major skills shortages, so there is currently an opportunity to choose from a diverse range of careers.” 

TAFE NSW offers basic skillsets in practical skills including shearing and tractor operations through to advanced farm management qualifications such as the Diploma of Agriculture. 

Vet nursing and animal care, wool classing, winemaking, horticulture and landscaping, livestock farming, food production, and cropping are just some of the other careers women can choose from in a booming industry that needs to grow its workforce by 25 per cent. 

Explore hundreds of courses in agribusiness at TAFE NSW. For more information visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.

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