Program keeps Jake’s dairy job dream alive

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WA College of Agriculture - Harvey student Jake Ferguson, 17, watched on by Gundagai Dairy co-principal Wade Scott, will be one of the first to apply for a dairy placement through Western Dairy's new graduate program.
Camera IconWA College of Agriculture - Harvey student Jake Ferguson, 17, watched on by Gundagai Dairy co-principal Wade Scott, will be one of the first to apply for a dairy placement through Western Dairy's new graduate program. Credit: Bob Garnant

WA youngsters keen on a career in the dairy industry now have the chance land jobs through a new graduate program.

Western Dairy officially launched its new Year 12 Graduate Dairy Placement Program at WA College of Agriculture — Harvey last Friday, with a “meet the farmers” event.

The industry body has partnered with seven WA dairy farmers to create the first graduate program of its kind.

Year 12 students from WA College of Agriculture — Harvey, WA College of Agriculture — Denmark, and South Regional TAFE are now able to go through a recruitment process aimed at matching graduates with participating dairy farms.

Successful student candidates would be offered full-time employment for one year as well as formal dairy training through South Regional TAFE. At the launch last Friday, eight students met with a representative from each dairy and were handed a booklet containing profiles of those farming enterprises.

For WA College of Agriculture — Year 12 student Jake Ferguson, 17, the event was his first interaction with dairy farmers.

“They were very professional and genuine people which gave me encouragement to follow through after I graduate later this year,” he said.

“I was literally won over on the dairy industry the first time I milked a cow at school.”

Jake said he was aware of the challenges facing the dairy industry, particularly low milk prices, which would require efficiencies throughout the industry.

“I am looking forward to completing a Certificate III in Agriculture, and gaining a placement through this program,” he said.

Western Dairy executive officer Esther Jones said program partners ultimately wanted to help young people get jobs, and as a result creating healthy farming businesses and a thriving dairy industry.

“We want to encourage high school graduates to consider a rewarding and exciting career in dairy,” she said.

WA College of Agriculture — Harvey farm training manager Paul Dyson said the program would bridge the gap between the experienced and highly acclaimed local farmers with the upcoming youth and future of agriculture.

“Today’s event was very successful with both students and their potential employers positive about the initiative,” he said.

Western Dairy training manager Rob LaGrange said he received great feedback from the participating farmers.

Third-generation dairy farmer Wade Scott of Gundagai Dairy at The Plains, who first identified the need to recruit and train young staff, said it was hoped the concept would lead to a more sustainable and skilled workforce.

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