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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Gap-Year Program Brings Young Oyster Farmers To The South Coast

Australia’s Oyster Coast welcomed two young school leavers to their farming team this week as part of the AgCAREERSTART program run by National Farmers’ Federation. This unique gap-year program helps school leavers kick start a career in agriculture.

Above: AgCAREERSTART particpants Skyla (left) and Lily (right)

Skyla Robinson McEvoy and Lily Smith relocated to the NSW south coast for a job placement at Australia’s Oyster Coast’s busy Narooma oyster farm. Both girls are new to farming and are keen to see whether an aquaculture career is for them. If they decide to continue with oyster farming after their gap-year, they have a permanent job with AOC that includes formal aquaculture qualifications.

“If you’re 17-25, this unique gap-year program gives you the opportunity to get paid while gaining on-farm experience and making industry connections through a fully supported program,” said AgCAREERSTART Project Manager Kayla Evans.

Applicants choose the farm type they’d prefer to work in and where in Australia they’d ideally like to go. A matching process is then undertaken to ensure participants are assigned to the type of farms that match their interests and skills explains Ms Evans.

In this case, Skyla and Lily both chose aquaculture and were matched with Australia’s Oyster Coast, a new host farmer to the program.

“As host farmers we get access to a national labour market of interested young people willing to relocate to regional areas to work on our oyster farms,” said Australia’s Oyster Coast CEO Devin Watson.

“It also challenges us as an employer to look at our programs and how we contribute to the future of Australia’s agricultural workforce,” said Mr Watson.

With recent extreme weather events affecting the oyster industry’s ability to harvest, safeguarding the industry’s future by attracting and developing current and future generations of oyster farmers is more important than ever.

“As oyster industry custodians, we want to enable the next generation to become leaders in a more resilient oyster industry,” said Mr Watson.

With oyster production the main aquaculture activity in NSW, it provides significant economic value to our small coastal communities. Recent figures from DPI show that aquaculture contributes over $80 million to the NSW economy and provides over 1,700 full and part time jobs in regional areas.

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03 thg 3, 2023

What a great idea. The industry needs new and enthusiastic people to join its ranks.


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