Australian institute to offer citrus diploma
Australia's Sunraysia Institute of TAFE (SuniTAFE) is to offer a new two-year, nationally accredited Diploma of Production Horticulture specific to citrus, aiming to support the next generation of orchard managers.
The Victoria-based institute plans to roll out a pilot diploma program in February 2016, with a longer term goal of delivering the qualification nationally.
The Diploma of Production Horticulture Citrus qualification has been jointly developed by SuniTAFE, TAFE New South Wales (NSW) - Riverina Institute, NSW Department of Primary Industry, local growers and industry body Citrus Australia.
The part-time course will initially be delivered at the SuniTAFE farm in Cardross and will involve 18-20 days of hands-on classes, practical orchard sessions and seminars presented by industry experts.
Citrus Australia market development manager Andrew Harty said the workload was designed to fit in around an employer’s requirements, and urged all employers to review their staff training needs and encourage promising employees to enrol.
"The Australian citrus industry is entering an exciting growth phase, with massive new marketing opportunities to supply Asian export markets," Harty said.
He added free trade agreements, favourable currency exchange and huge demand for ‘clean & green’ Australian fruit were all helping to drive citrus expansion.
"But at the same time, we need to lift our game to ensure we are supplying only the best quality product as efficiently as possible, and to achieve that, our supply chain will need managers with greater knowledge, skills and technical expertise than ever before," he said.
"If you are working in horticulture and have a passion to succeed, there is no better time to step up to the next level by enrolling for the Citrus Diploma."
Course topics will focus on production, harvesting, irrigation, farm management, and industry issues.
"There is an urgent need to develop a career pathway in the Australian citrus industry, and develop a skills training framework to support this," Harty said.
"This was the key message delivered by delegates at the Citrus Australia National Issues Forum last week, during an interactive session on skills gap analysis facilitated by Hort Innovation.
"There was strong audience feedback that a new Citrus focussed Diploma program would give an excellent kickstart to developing leadership and management capacity in the industry."