The future of farming in the Southern Highlands involves boosting the number of women in the industry, according to the National Farmers' Federation (NFF), and TAFE NSW is proudly skilling this new workforce.
NFF president Fiona Simson, the first female president in the organisation's 40-year history, said their goal was to double the number of women in agriculture's leadership ranks by 2030.
"Progress reports from our Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program show we are well on the way to achieving this goal, if not knocking it out of the park," Ms Simson said.
"The NFF has identified increasing the representation of women as key to achieving agriculture's goal to be a $100 billion industry by 2030.
"We want to see more meaningful change toward gender diversity in the agricultural sector and we know that TAFE NSW is playing an integral role in helping to attract female students and train the next generation of women in the industry."
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture, Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) indicate women comprise only 31 per cent of workers in agriculture.
TAFE NSW provides women with pathways into a range of agribusiness careers and already boasts a relatively high proportion of female enrolments in agribusiness courses at 47 per cent.
Davina Kruger, 48, had a successful career in Sydney in events and sports but shifted to the Highlands with her family recently to run a 165-acre livestock property in Canyonleigh.
With scant farming experience, Mrs Kruger enrolled in a Certificate II in Agriculture at TAFE NSW Moss Vale and quickly gained the practical skills to start managing her property.
"We really had no idea what we were doing when we first moved in," Ms Kruger said.
"The first unit we studied was farm fencing and that was what we actually had to do first on the property so the timing was perfect.
"The livestock unit was also at exactly the right time and taught me the right way to vaccinate and ear-tag the cattle.
"The whole course has really given me confidence."
TAFE NSW Agriculture Team Leader Jenny O'Donnell said as NSW's leading provider of vocational education and training, TAFE NSW was uniquely positioned to arm women with the hands-on, practical skills they need to develop successful careers.
"There are so many opportunities to make a difference in a rewarding agricultural career, and our skills-based courses allow women to hit the ground running in local industries and stay living and working in regional areas," Ms O'Donnell said.
"Many of our agricultural sectors across NSW are experiencing major skills shortages, so there is currently an opportunity to choose from a diverse range of careers."
TAFE NSW offers basic skillsets in practical skills including shearing and tractor operations through to advanced farm management qualifications such as the Diploma of Agriculture.
Vet nursing and animal care, wool classing, winemaking, horticulture and landscaping, livestock farming, food production and cropping are just some of the other careers women can choose from in a booming industry that needs to grow its workforce by 25 per cent.
Explore hundreds of courses in agribusiness at TAFE NSW. For more information visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.
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