SAFETY FIRST: Ron Woods. chainsaw course instructor at Wollongbar TAFE.
SAFETY FIRST: Ron Woods. chainsaw course instructor at Wollongbar TAFE. Patrick Gorbunovs

Armed with the latest farm skills

ARMED with impressive new agricultural skills, a group of eight trainees will today graduate from their course at Wollongbar TAFE and start looking for work.

They are the first in the region to finish the nationally-accredited Agricultural Production and Cultivation course that took them four weeks.

The course started with 11 participants, but three have already found work with local primary producers.

Delivered at TAFE's Wollongbar campus, the course covered a wide range of year-round skills for the modern agricultural tradesperson.

The chainsaw instructor, Ron Woods, said the group had been keen to learn.

"It's an important skill to have, because I have seen so many near misses with a chainsaw," he said.

"These boys now have a lot of options for work - things like trimming, macadamia pruning and other on-the-ground work."

Course participant Adolfo Avilla said the program had been very practical.

"I decided to do this for something different," he said.

"It's been great learning to use the chainsaws.

"At first it is pretty scary, because they're so big and heavy and then when you turn them on it's very loud.

"But I've really started to love it."

Ian Tiley, Chairman of Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers managed the project and the partnerships behind it.

Dr Tiley said the graduates would have "the most up-to-date skills that any modern farming operation would welcome".

"We know that Australia-wide there are more than 100,000 vacancies in primary production," he said.

"This is due to a number of factors, including a reduction in seasonal backpacker numbers and the lure of high salaries in the mining states."

NEW SKILLS

Tractor operation

Machinery maintenance

Chemical application

Using GPS for cultivation and management of crops

Workplace health and safety

Environmentally- sustainable work practices.

Chainsaw operation was an option



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