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4 December 2008
Longreach Agricultural College
PETER SCOTT: Longreach Campus was the first real training school established in Queensland in 1967. At that time it was all male students and in 1979 the first female students arrived at the campus.
We have about 60,000 acres of grazing country here in Western Queensland and we have a large variety of livestock enterprises appropriate to this area.
Our qualifications are set up in one semester blocks, approximately about 18 weeks each semester and we start off with the Certificate I and II in Rural Operations. Now they're a very broad rural qualification. Students learn things like first aid and chemical application and they also learn how to operate in teams and that sort of thing, so a basic introduction to working in small teams in isolated environments in a high risk activity.
Then we go into the traditional things like livestock handling, vehicle operations - so how to operate a Four Wheel Drive; motorbikes servicing and operation of motorbikes. They learn fencing. They learn how to weld so they learn a broad range of skills.
They do some horse work, and with our livestock we focus on three principal livestock species, beef cattle, horses and merino sheep, but we also run a meat goat operation that's getting up to a significant size now as well.
After Rural Operations they can move into a Certificate III in Agriculture, which gives them a more theoretical basis as well as the practical skills to go a bit further in their training and in their qualifications into general agriculture, and that can be topped off with Certificate IV and Diploma of Agriculture in say their second year, so they can get a more rounded theoretical basis, with a practical emphasis.
We also have a Certificate II and III in Horse breeding that we operate that's very popular. In our northern pastoral industry I guess we still use horses a lot here in Queensland and into the Territory and that's very popular with those kids who want to work in those large beef operations, because they learn how to train horses, handle horses and look after working horses.
We do have a special program from the shearing industry where we teach qualifications from a Certificate II in Wool Handling and Shearing gradually working up to a Certificate IV in Wool Classing.
Longreach is an iconic destination and out here everything is fairly large scale, and I think our operation here, we talk about how many kilometres of fencing the students are going to build, not how many metres. We talk about how many hundreds or thousands of sheep they're going to get through for a particular training period.
ESTER EICHENBERG: I'm Ester Eichenberg and I'm from Noosa, which is near Brisbane. I wanted to do the horse studies so this is the only place to do it and this is where I am. This afternoon we've been mustering sheep in and we've got the whole class who went out.
PETER SCOTT: Girls are very good with livestock. They seem to have a lot more patience when it comes to general livestock activities and, you know, a lot of the heavy lifting and that has gone out of agriculture now because of all the innovations that we have now.
Students learn to use computers and at different levels we try to enhance their computer skills so they'll start off using spread sheets and do work processing and then gradually, depending on their level of qualification, they'll move in to more complicated things like using computer models for livestock recording and things like that.
So, we've got about 90 high schools students. We're offering qualifications there in automotive vehicle servicing which is very popular among some of the male students that come out of the local regional towns and kids off properties that have that mechanical bent and would like to get an introductory qualification to maybe go into an apprenticeship or something like that.
Some of these kids may not eventually go into agriculture but they learn really good skills that help them make good decisions about future training or areas of study but the idea is to try and prepare them for a career in agriculture.
The industry's looking for people that understand modern technology whether it's electronic tags, whether it's being able to use computer models, things like that.
There is a skills shortage in agriculture. A young person who is well trained whose motivated and who has got some ambition, I think they're going to move through the areas of responsibility in agriculture a lot faster than myself and my peers were able to.