AN additional $100,000 will be pumped into an agricultural career pathway program for young Queenslanders, but questions remain over what value it will actually bring.
The Agribusiness Gateway to Industry Program will be revamped to include elements of the popular School to Industry Partnership Program, which the State Government axed this year.
But AgForce, which was in charge of running the SIPP, said they had not been consulted about the plan and remain skeptical as to how the agribusiness program would benefit children.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the SIPP encouraged kids to get out of the classroom and gave them real life experience with livestock and agricultural industries.
“The SIPP is the only program that gives children a genuine feel for agriculture, being around animals and talking to agricultural leaders,” Mr Guerin said.
“We had requested a modest increase in funding, the $181,000 reached over 10,000 kids a year, it is an absolute slap in the face for industry.”
The SIPP program had been running in Queensland since 2004 at a cost of $181,000 annually. The last event was held in Toowoomba in October after the funding was pulled.
“At a time when every other state is investing in educational agricultural opportunities for children, learning their the food and fibre is coming from, the State Government continues to reduce funding and thumb their nose,” Mr Guerin said.
Training and Skills Minister Shannon Fentiman said consultation would soon begin on a review of the success of the Agribusiness Gateway Schools program in connecting young people with agribusiness careers, and how that success could be extended to include relevant elements of the SIPP.
“We want to take the best parts of SIPP and wrap them into the work of the Gateway program, to ensure we are giving young rural Queenslanders the best possible education and training in agriculture and agribusiness,” she said.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the Agribusiness Gateway to Industry Program delivered in partnership by DAF and DESBT had been successful in supporting students transitioning to work in the agricultural industry, but more work was required to support the technology advancements in the sector.
“As agriculture and agribusiness continue to evolve, so will our school based programs,” Mr Furner said.
But Mr Guerin questioned why they had not been consulted before the decision to scrap SIPP and shift funds had been made.
“There has been no consultation, absolutely zero with industry and all of our requests for consultation have been ignored.
“To offer consultation after the fact, what is the point?”
“The government’s own review of SIPP over multiple years showed it to be incredibly powerful and a good program supported not only by educators, families and children, but by industry which means a measly $181,000 is multiplied several times over by the time it gets to children.
”The classroom based lesson doesn’t give children that genuine connection with the industry and at a time when that connection between those who consume and those who grow is vital, to go back to the classroom rather than supporting an industry lead program is breath-taking.”