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AGRICULTURAL researchers are working to create an innovative and skilled meat processing workforce for the future.
Led by CQ University’s Dr Jaime Manning in collaboration with the Australian Meat Processor Corporation, the new project is designed to understand school teacher, student and parent perceptions, knowledge and awareness of the red meat processing sector and associated career pathways.
Dr Manning said understanding the current state of knowledge and perception of the red meat processing sector was crucial for the future development of an evidence-based strategy to attract the next generation to careers in the industry.
“Primary and secondary school students are the next generation workforce, however for them to choose the red meat processing sector as an employer, they must have a positive perception and knowledge of the diverse and attractive career opportunities available.
“Teachers are key influencers of student career pathways and also determine the content and industries they include in teaching and learning programs to meet curriculum outcomes,” she said.
“If teachers do not have a positive perception, knowledge, or awareness of what a job in the red meat processing sector entails, it is unlikely they will be confident to promote these pathways to their students.
“It is important to engage with teachers, students and their families to address the sector’s image and change any negative perceptions to build a sustainable workforce.”
She said teachers from rural and metropolitan schools across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are invited to participate in the study, with information obtained to be used to develop a national teacher red meat processing survey.
“To gain a comprehensive view of teacher perceptions, participants from a range of demographics, including both primary and secondary school, and those that do and do not teach agriculture will be involved.”
From there the research team will expand their scope to include students and their parents.
“Parents are also key influencers of their children’s career pathways and the information collected will provide valuable insight and the possible affect they may have on supporting their child to consider a job in the industry,” Dr Manning said.
“This project is just the start of how the industry will work towards attracting a talented, diverse, and dedicated workforce to the red meat processing sector.”
Program Manager- People and Culture at the Australian Meat Processor Corporation, Amanda Carter said they were excited to partner with CQU.
“Partnering with CQUniversity on this stage one program will help to understand the current perceptions of students, teachers and parents will help the industry move to a stage two project, aimed at developing a creative training program that teachers can incorporate into their curriculum.”
At the completion of the project, research will contribute to the AMPC aspiration of the processing sector being seen as a diverse, safe and attractive industry of choice for employment by 2030.
- Click here to read an earlier story outlining the labour challenges being faced by the red meat processing industry.
- Coming up next week on The Weekly Grill, Beef Central’s popular podcast platform: Host Kerry Lonergan talks with Wasa Mudannayake, a Sri Lankan immigrant who has risen from the casual labourer ranks to become general manager of Australia’s second largest meat processing plant – Lakes Creek near Rockhampton. As well as recounting his own bottom-to-the-top story, Wasa discusses the labour challenges faced in red meat processing, and how the industry is going about addressing them.