With funding from the Building Australia’s Future Workforce (BAFW) program, RDA-NR is managing a project to support the development of agricultural employment initiatives in the region. The project is being delivered in collaboration with government, industry and education partners.


A Sweeter Future

The Northern Rivers Sugar Industry Workforce Development Transition Program is investigating workforce needs to assist in the development of sustainable solutions and strategies for employment in the northern rivers agricultural sector.

The project will establish an integrated program to address issues relating to apprenticeships, succession planning, development of the next generation of cane farmers, attracting and retaining seasonal harvest workers and skills shortages. The project is being undertaken in two stages:

Stage 1: recruitment of a coordinator to work with sugar industry to develop and map the workforce development transition program; and<

Stage 2: implementation of the program by the sugar industry with the assistance of a dedicated coordinator and the project steering committee.

The overall objectives are to:

  • ensure that training and employment outcomes are maximised and benefit from a range of government support programs;
  • expand the age cohorts employed in the sugar industry;
  • access capital and human resources to increase the scale of production as required;
  • develop appropriate business model(s) to sustain viable land-based trade and practices;
  • enable the continued expansion of land under cane through developing and assisting the next generation of cane farmers;
  • retain the sugar industry as a key agricultural sector in the region;
  • generate passion and enthusiasm for agriculture in the region; and
  • increase skills and capabilities in the sugar industry to address skills shortages.

The project has also created a strategic partnership with three agricultural sectors to improve the employment options for local workers and develop a sustainable workforce for the agriculture sector. The project brings together

  • NSW Sugar,
  • the Australian Macadamia Society (AMS),
  • Maincamp Natural Extracts and
  • the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA)

to work together to ensure a supply of well trained and skilled agricultural workers in the region and extend their employment options and opportunities.

What’s new in the project?

  • Consultations with industry – hearing their workforce development issues
  • Skills demand timeline –  combining the cultivation and production timelines of all three sectors to determine their peak need for skilled employees ()
  • Completion of a four-week Agricultural Cultivation and Production Skills Course for eight new agricultural workers. The course was delivered by TAFE and supported by NSW State Training Services. It concentrated on the mechanical and machinery aspects of all industries. Click these to see coverage of the initiative in the Northern Star and on ABC North Coast.

Shared Labour Pool

The North Coast Agricultural Shared Labour Pool (NCASLP) was launched in September 2012 employers to help fill skilled workers for short term and seasonal work.

Visit the sharedlabourpool.com.au website for more information or contact the Pool Administrator on 0448 031 295.

This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations through the Local Employment Coordinator Flexible Funding Pool. Training was funded by State Training Services through the 2013 Strategic Skills Program.