Skilled and motivated workforce

Creating pathways for new and existing employees

In 2015, the dairy industry’s drive to attract, retain and develop capable people in all parts of the dairy industry has continued.

The industry’s Employment Starter Kit Initiative (ESKi) which began in 2013 has now seen 2100 copies distributed. This kit details all of the mandatory requirements for dairy farm businesses that employ staff.

In August this year, Dairy Australia and Australian Dairy Farmers finalised a Dairy Industry Labour Agreement with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. This agreement will enable dairy farmers who are experiencing difficulties recruiting suitably experienced and skilled employees to recruit senior farmhands from overseas.

The Stepping Stones guide (see, originally launched in Tasmania in 2013, has been extended nationally. This guide, which forms part of the Stepping Stones program, aims to provide clear career pathways into the Australian dairy industry through to retirement. The first stage has been the development of regional case studies that can be used as a guide to a variety of career pathways, illustrating how to acquire skills and make the most of opportunities in our industry.

Stepping Up, which is the second stage includes planning to build skills and knowledge with a well-developed wealth creation strategy in mind and options that include share farming, leasing and dairy farm ownership. Employment Made Easy or eMe ( a useful job-matching service for dairy farm employers and job seekers alike. It is currently being rolled out across the eight dairy regions.

The National Centre for Dairy Education has continued to expand the provision of high quality, dairy specific education programs. In 2014/15 NCDE became a multi-sector education system covering schools, VET and higher education. The NCDE brand is the umbrella for Dairy Australia's investment in industry education. Data is now being gathered to show the number of people enrolling in dairy specific programs across Australia. This will assist in tracking the identified targets.

In late 2014 the dairy industry successfully launched a model Code of Practice for dairy share farming. Given the huge variation in farms and in individual circumstances there has never been a standard share dairy farming agreement. The Code sets out guidelines that owners and share farmers can follow in setting up an agreement that will work for both parties.

To date, 100 consultants across Australia have participated in training on the Code with very positive feedback.  Dairy farmers who have used the new code in setting up share farming agreements have been equally positive. As the dairy industry continues to build our profile within the community, the standards and guidelines set out the in the Code of Practice will help to promote share farming as an effective way to operate a dairy farm business and demonstrate that there is a viable path to successfully building a dairy farming career.

The Dairy Manufacturing Scholarship Program is held each year, supported by Dairy Australia and manufacturers across the dairy supply chain. The main objective of the program is to attract recent graduates and diploma holders into the dairy industry and to train them in relevant aspects of dairy manufacturing. All recent graduates have found employment in the industry within two months of completing the program.

The Gardiner Dairy Foundation supported the Monash Industry Team Initiative (MITI) in 2014/15. The three month program is designed to expose high achieving students to employment opportunities in regional Victoria, while at the same time giving dairy manufacturers access to new skill sets and exposure to potential future employees. MITI operates by placing small multi-disciplinary student teams with dairy manufacturers to solve specific company challenges on a commercial-in-confidence basis. In 2015, 10 teams of four students in the fields of engineering, education, commerce, mathematics and Information Technology have taken up projects with Devondale Murray Goulburn, Fonterra, Bega Cheese, Burra Foods and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter. The Monash Dairy Industry MITI program won the 2015 Business/Higher Education Round Table (B/HERT) Award for Outstanding Excellence in Collaboration.