Farm Guide VIC : 2010 - 2011
Skills for better farming 86 Education Like farmer Michael Blake, changes to Victoria's TAFE and training system encourage training for better business. While producing prime lambs, yearling beef, fine-superfine merino wool, grain and fodder on Bally Glu nin Park, his 1,800 hectare grazing and farming property in Hamilton, Michael Blake has continued his father's championing of education and training. Over the past 15 years, as well as seeing six apprentices through their Certificates in Agriculture, he has employed around 20 trainees and another 30-40 work- experience students. "Staff who have a good understanding of what they are doing mea ns better operations," he says. Blake is a passionate believer in continuous upgrading of qualifications for all ages, something the Victorian Government's major reforms of the vocational training and education system are designed to encourage, particula rly the Victorian Training Guarantee. The Victorian Training Guarantee entitles eligible students to government subsidised training if a business is looking to up-skill its employees through an approved provider. It provides an opportunity for businesses to share the cost of training with Government for training for the skills they need to raise productivity and innovation. It is also designed to boost the skills and capabilities of their workforce. Blake also has a Masters in Education and provides a variety of work experience and training opportunities for students, including an annual, five-day, pathways to industry program for five secondary schools from the Hamilton area. It's no surprise then that Blake and Bally Glunin Park were welcome signees to the Victorian Skills Pledge. This is a public declaration by businesses of their commitment to skills development. Taking the Victorian Skills Pledge also gives businesses a range of marketing opportunities to demonstrate they are dedicated to up-skilling their staff to best-practice standards. It is open to businesses of all sizes across all industries. Businesses of up to 200 full-time equivalent staff that sign the Victorian Skills Pledge can also receive assistance from the Victorian Government in delivering on their training commitment through Skills for Growth: the Workforce Development Program. This program provides eligible businesses with independent specialists to work with them -- free of charge -- to identify their strategic business aims and objectives, assess the skills of their existing workforce and identify opportunities for skills development and training. A training plan is put together in consultation with the business, and the specialist helps to find the most appropriate accredited training available to support their needs. Skills for Growth is open to all Victorian-based small and medium sized businesses in all industries. To be eligible, the business must have been in operation for at least 12 months and be financially viable. Blake is particularly enthusiastic about training for young people. "There's a lot of doom and gloom attitude about, that the ca reer paths for our industry have been destroyed," he says, "but if they're well trained, young people have an over view of industry that enables them to develop a whole range of career paths," he says. As an employer, Blake believes staff training benefits everyone. "I require all my staff to get qualifications and I send them off to do accredited courses. My wife, my children and I have all done certifications. I recommend continuous training to everyone!" For more information about changes to the TAFE and training system, including Skills for Growth, the Victorian Training Guarantee and the Victorian Skills Pledge, visit w ww.skills.vic.gov.au or contact Primary Skills Victoria on (03) 9210 9470.
2009 - 2010