Future-proofing the NA aquaculture industry need for skilled staff to 2050

Nankervis, L., Barbero, G., Irving, A., Joyce, M., Pizzutto, M., Diedrich, A., and Condon, K. (2022) Future-proofing the NA aquaculture industry need for skilled staff to 2050. Report. CRC for Developing Northern Australia, Townsville.

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The aquaculture industry in Northern Australia (NA) is undergoing a period of unprecedented growth, precipitating an increasing demand for skilled staff. To facilitate this growth, the industry requires an increasing stream of suitably skilled and qualified entrants to the industry workforce. Prior to this project, the extent to which educational models aligned to industry requirements was unclear, in terms of graduate knowledge and skills, but also in terms of graduate numbers. We aimed to address this alignment, while also identifying barriers to cost-effective delivery of vocational training for the Northern Australian aquaculture industry and investigating new training models that may assist. We further aimed to identify career pathways and derive careers documentation to better align the interests of potential industry entrants to education and careers pathways, highlighting this industry to those with compatible interests. In order to better understand and align educational outputs with industry needs, this project collected data from the industry by means of interviews, surveys and job advertisements. The resulting outputs have defined three different categories of employment: farmhand, technical and management. Data from the interview process populated these categories with skills and qualifications associated with each of these categories. Job advertisements were reasonably evenly distributed between farmhand, technical and management positions, with a slight bias (44%) toward technical positions. We confirmed that the industry is expanding in response to strong demand for seafood and high profitability. With growth has come an increased engagement with technology, which is the major driver of skills changes that are envisioned into the future. Our study did not reveal significant qualitative gaps in educational outputs, but it highlighted the need for closer integration of education and on-farm practices, with strengthened internship and work-integrated-learning (WIL) programs highlighted as areas for development. The more significant gap was found in the quantity of staff currently being educated compared to requirements, with current rates of graduates unlikely to supply more than half of the new staff required by 2030. In order to ensure sufficient staff for the NA aquaculture industry into the future, it is apparent that work is required to increase its attractiveness and awareness for new entrants as well as retaining staff that currently work within the industry. We consider on-farm vocational education to be a central pillar of existing workforce skill development and staff retention. As the industry grows, retention will be increasingly dependent on a structured approach to career development, including job satisfaction, skill development and remuneration. Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are able to maintain viability where they are located close to large aquaculture enterprises that are committed to upskilling. The dispersed nature of the industry makes training delivery challenging on-site and the cost of facilities makes centralised teaching particularly expensive. Nevertheless, RTOs may be able to contribute significantly to new career entrants to the industry through government funded preemployment programs. This project has contributed digital training modules that are envisaged to support RTOs and Universities train the next generation of aquaculture staff and engage new entrants to the industry. These are not intended to supplant existing training models and the value of face-to-face training and assessment cannot be over-emphasised.

Item ID: 76293
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 978-1-922437-39-6
Keywords: Aquaculture; Northern Australia; barramundi; grouper; prawns; education; students; skills; staff; careers
Copyright Information: © 2021 CRC for Developing Northern Australia. Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.
Funders: CRC for Developing Northern Australia
Projects and Grants: A.1.2021014 - Future-proofing the NA aquaculture industry need for skilled staff to 2050
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2022 01:54
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300501 Aquaculture @ 100%
SEO Codes: 10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1002 Fisheries - aquaculture > 100202 Aquaculture fin fish (excl. tuna) @ 40%
10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1002 Fisheries - aquaculture > 100205 Aquaculture prawns @ 40%
10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1002 Fisheries - aquaculture > 100206 Aquaculture rock lobster @ 20%
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