A $1.3 million State Government grant into research that aims to bolster the “attractiveness” of the agriculture sector is set to be rolled out to help farms retain workers and encourage career pathways. The Ag2030 research program will leverage existing work currently undertaken by AgriFutures Australia as well as complement farm surveys undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural resource Economics and Sciences. Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the program would see support agricultural employers and businesses to better target recruitment and worker retention. “Human capital is an important theme of the government’s Delivering Ag2030 plan which aims to achieve a $100 billion agricultural industry by 2030,” he said. “Challenging outdated perceptions of modern agricultural work is critical to position agriculture as the modern, innovative and resilient industry it is today.” Binningup growers Patane Produce recently held a forum to inform schools of the opportunities and skilled positions available on their farm for VET students as well as anyone interested in a horticultural career pathway. Co-owner Pennie Patane said currently workers from programs such as Working Holiday Makers were a short-term fix and they were looking at finding more longer term employees. “We’re trying to mechanise wherever we can throughput the process, which is an attitude we’ve had for a long time, to try and create more skilled jobs rather than labour intensive jobs,” she said. “We’re trying to work with local schools to get people interested in this as a career. “We have done gap year kids for a number of years and the numbers seem to be dropping; there don’t seem to be as many kids looking for work now as there was a couple of years ago.” The final report — part of the State Governments AgATTRACT measure — aims to provide insight and case studies into community perceptions of agricultural occupations.