AgSkilled 2.0 Program

The AgSkilled 2.0 program is a $15 million investment by the NSW Government to upskill and better prepare the agricultural workforce for fast-moving change driven by industry innovation, research and technology through vocational education and training (VET), across these identified agricultural industry sectors across NSW:

  • plant-based fibre (e.g. cotton)
  • grains
  • production horticulture
  • viticulture (i.e grape growing)
  • rice
Wheat field

About AgSkilled 2.0

cotton cropThe program runs till 30 June 2023 and aims to:

  • attract, develop and retain a productive workforce to underpin continued growth of the identified agricultural industry sectors in NSW
  • support primary producers and their workforce in the identified agricultural industry sectors develop production, technology, business and safety skills to increase farm productivity and profitability
  • develop industry capacity to adopt new technologies and sustainable farming practices
  • support career progression, entry pathways and employment outcomes across the wider agricultural industry and regional NSW economy
  • leverage research and development in the identified agricultural industry sectors to ensure training is relevant, current and meets industry needs.

Training Services NSW, in partnership with Cotton Australia (CA), Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA), NSW Wine Industry Association (NSWWIA) and Ricegrowers Association of Australia (RGA) as part of a Steering Committee are guiding this program, including:

  • identifying industry training needs
  • marketing and promoting of AgSkilled 2.0 to relevant stakeholders
  • encouraging Training Providers to deliver AgSkilled 2.0

Smart and Skilled

Smart and Skilled is a NSW Government program, administered by Training Services NSW in the NSW Department of Education, which subsidises the training costs of courses on the NSW Skills List. The NSW Skills List includes a wide range of nationally recognised qualifications to support the skills needs of NSW employers.

Administered under the NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled program, AgSkilled 2.0 provides fee-free part-qualifications training (i.e. short courses that target identified skills gaps).

More information is available on the Smart and Skilled website at www.smartandskilled.nsw.gov.au

How does it work?

vineyardIn consultation with industry, AgSkilled 2.0 aims to meet agricultural workforce development needs through four (4) industry-identified key training pillars: Production, Technology, Business and Safety.

Current, relevant and flexible, the training is tailored and delivered to suit your business needs, and can be designed to suit students with a range of skills and experience. It covers areas as diverse as:

  • Farm production
  • Precision agriculture
  • Soils and nutrition
  • Emerging technologies
  • Agricultural processing (on-farm)
  • Retailing (on-farm)
  • Farm machinery operation and maintenance
  • Licensing
  • Farm business management
  • Workplace health and safety
  • Leadership.

Benefits of AgSkilled 2.0 training

For producers and employers, AgSkilled 2.0 allows you to build the productivity of your business by upskilling existing workers and providing new industry entrants with training in the skills you need, now and into the future.

For existing industry employees and job seekers, AgSkilled 2.0 will help you gain the skills employers want with industry relevant and up-to-date training. Increase your career and employment prospects, both now and into the future.

A practical example of the benefits participants can gain from undertaking AgSkilled 2.0 training is seen through the Advanced Spray and Precision Agronomy courses.

AgSkilled course Beneficial outcomes Benefit-Cost analysis

The AgSkilled Precision Agronomy course sought to build capacity among both grain and cotton growers to understand and adopt precision agronomy technologies to improve on‐ farm profitability

  1. Economic benefits to growers as a result of reduced input costs, targeted applications, and improved crop yields, etc.;
  2. Health and safety benefits to growers due to precision agronomy technologies e.g. automated steer, sensor based variable rate application technologies; and
  3. Environmental benefits such as improved soil health and reduced levels of excess inputs in soil and water resources (both on‐farm and off‐farm).

 

A benefit‐cost analysis was completed to determine the returns to investment for the AgSkilled Precision Agronomy course based on conservative values regarding the actual and future expected economic benefits to growers associated with reduced input costs.

Based on available data and assumptions, the investment in the AgSkilled Precision Agronomy course delivered:

  • A Net Present Value1 of $4.0m;
  • A Benefit‐Cost Ratio2 of 4.1 to 1; and
  • An Internal Rate of Return3 of 12.2%.

These results are conservative and represent a portion of the total value delivered by the AgSkilled Precision Agronomy course as only one of three beneficial outcomes were quantified due to data availability.

The AgSkilled Advanced Spray course trained experienced NSW growers, advisors, managers, employees and spray contractors involved in grains/cotton production to improve capacity to develop spray drift management plans as well improve ability to calibrate and operate spray equipment.

  1. Economic benefits to growers implementing changed spray practices on‐farm e.g. reduced chemical input costs;
  2. Continued social licence to operate due to improved perception of the environmental credentials of growers;
  3. Reduction in production losses caused by spray drift;
  4. Health and safety benefits to growers due to improved chemical management; and
  5. Environmental benefits (both on‐farm and off‐farm) as a result of more effective chemical use.

 

A benefit‐cost analysis was conducted to determine the returns to investment for the Advanced Spray course, and the benefits associated with Outcome 1: Economic benefits to growers implementing changed spray practices on‐farm (e.g. reduced chemical input costs) were quantified based on available data.

The base scenario results indicate:

  • A Net Present Value1 of $3.9m;
  • A Benefit‐Cost Ratio2 of 2.0 to 1; and
  • An Internal Rate of Return3 of 12.5%.

These values are conservative in nature as only one of five beneficial outcomes were quantified due to data availability.

Note:
1. A Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) is a ratio used in a cost-benefit analysis to summarize the overall relationship between the relative costs and benefits of a proposed project. A project with a BCR greater than 1.0 is expected to deliver a positive net present value to the organisation.
2. The Net Present Value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a period of time, and is used to analyse the profitability of a projected investment or project. A positive net present value indicates that the projected earnings generated by a project or investment - in present dollars - exceeds the anticipated costs
3. The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) estimates the profitability of potential investments and represents the annual rate of growth an investment is expected to generate. Generally speaking, the higher the internal rate of return, the more desirable an investment is to undertake.

Available Courses and Units of Competency

The following Courses and Units of Competency (UoC’s) can be delivered under AgSkilled 2.0, with Employers and Training Providers being able to select any combination of UoC’s in this list for delivery which best fits their business, industry and/or employee needs.

If suitable training is not available in the following list of endorsed Courses and Units of Competency (UoC’s), please contact the AgSkilled Project Officer, Claudia Vicary at enquiries@agskilled.org.au or your Training Services NSW Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM) to recommend it be included under AgSkilled 2.0.

This list provides the short courses supported under the AgSkilled 2.0 program. For course availability and scheduling, please refer to the AgSkilled 2.0 website or contact the AgSkilled Project Officer, Claudia Vicary at enquiries@agskilled.org.au or your nearest Training Services NSW Regional Office on 13 28 11.

Training locations

Farming operations in the identified agricultural industry sectors and which are located in rural, regional and metropolitan NSW, including the Greater Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong metropolitan regions are eligible to access AgSkilled 2.0 training.

These areas include the Illawarra & South East, Hunter & Central Coast, New England, Mid and North Coast, Riverina, Western and all three (3) Greater Sydney metropolitan Training Services NSW Regions.

Student eligibility

apple orchardAgSkilled 2.0 training is available if you have a genuine interest in the identified agricultural industry sectors, such as if you are a primary producer, farm employee, contractor, industry professional (e.g. agronomist) or seeking employment in the sector (i.e. job seeker, school leaver).

You can access AgSkilled 2.0 funded training if you meet Smart and Skilled eligibility requirements

Training Provider eligibility

AgSkilled 2.0 Training Providers are:

  • Smart and Skilled approved, and
  • required to be endorsed by the AgSkilled 2.0 Steering Committee.

Current Training Providers endorsed to deliver AgSkilled 2.0 include:

Training Services NSW is currently seeking Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from Training Providers who wish to deliver AgSkilled 2.0 training.

To submit an EoI please contact the AgSkilled Project Officer, Claudia Vicary at enquiries@agskilled.org.au or your Training Services NSW Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM).

AgSkilled 2.0 Program brochure

This program brochure provides an overview of the AgSkilled 2.0 program and is available in two (2) versions, one for Digital distribution (i.e. email attachment) and the other for Print distribution (i.e. physical handouts).

Page last updated: 28 July 2021