WAFarmers’ Bootcamp to Employment hailed a success

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Adam PoulsenThe West Australian
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WAFarmers Bootcamp to Employment graduates Laura-Kate Dymond, left, Olivia Morgan and Kynan Spencer.
Camera IconWAFarmers Bootcamp to Employment graduates Laura-Kate Dymond, left, Olivia Morgan and Kynan Spencer.

A new “boot camp” aimed at attracting recruits to WA’s farm machinery sector has been hailed a huge success following a trial run at Muresk Institute.

The WAFarmers Bootcamp to Employment Program was developed to address skills shortages and a lack of young people entering the industry, with the first round of students completing the intensive residential course last Thursday.

Eighteen participants from across WA spent three days developing a range of skills before graduating with a graded skills passport.

They then got to network with a slew of prospective employers, sponsors and industry bigwigs at a speed-dating-style meet-and-greet at Muresk’s Northam campus.

Among the graduates was 17-year-old Olivia Morgan, who grew up on a cattle farm in Harvey and said she was keen to expand her horizons.

“I did it as a bit of an eye-opener to see what else is out there in the agriculture industry, and just to make some contacts and some new friends,” she said.

“It was really good because all the machinery stuff especially — like the auto steer, the spraying, and all these different things — aren’t such a big thing down where I’m from compared to what they are up here.

“It was great to learn about so many different industries within the agricultural system... you’ve got so many different pathways and choices.”

Participants in the WAFarmers Bootcamp to Employment course at Muresk Institute.
Camera IconParticipants in the WAFarmers Bootcamp to Employment course at Muresk Institute. Credit: Countryman

A host of industry experts shared their knowledge — from agronomy spray technology and machinery application, to seeding equipment and drones, spatial data collection and analytics, CV portfolio preparation, work health and safety, and data management.

Eighteen-year-old Wagin local Kynan Spencer said data management, presented by Agworld general manager Simon Foley, was a highlight.

“I found that part really interesting: how he uses the different platforms and integrates them through other people to get this huge (body of) information about their farm, how they’re doing and what they can do better to improve it,” Mr Spencer said.

Mr Spencer, who grew up on a 180ha sheep, cattle and cropping farm, said he also relished the opportunity to network. “You don’t get to do that very often so when you get the chance, you should definitely go for it,” he said.

WAFarmers chief executive Trevor Whittington said the course was intended to make it easier for employers to identify keen youngsters, though they need not come from farming backgrounds.

“A lot of city kids don’t know there’s a pathway to actually go and work with some of these ag machinery dealerships,” Mr Whittington said.

“The kids who’ve put their hand up and spent a couple of days here have already self-selected; they’ve shown they’ve got a bit of get up and go, and ultimately that’s what you want.

“This is potentially the brave new world because we’ve got an absolute huge shortage of mechanics, of people to work in the ag sector, and if we can attract them early, we’re more likely to hold them.”

I did it as a bit of an eye-opener to see what else is out there in the agriculture industry, and just to make some contacts and some new friends.

Olivia Morgan

Mr Whittington said dealers and stakeholders he had spoken with were impressed with how “sophisticated and engaging” the first batch of graduates were.

Among them was Farm Machinery and Industry Association of WA executive officer John Henchy.

“The students were just a good, well-rounded bunch of people and I got the impression they’d be really good to work with because they were respectful, they asked questions, and just had an excellent attitude,” Mr Henchy said.

“The employers who came to interview them were wrapped, which surprised me because they only had a very short time to interview them.

“What can you say, other than ‘wow, let’s do it again?’”

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