UNE Vice-Chancellor and CEO Professor Annabelle Duncan with AGCAP Co-ordinator Russell Stewart.
Narrabri’s Russell Stewart and the University of New England’s Vice-Chancellor and CEO Professor Annabelle Duncan have signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in relation to the AgriBusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) program. “AGCAP is making a real difference to young lives and to the agribusiness sector in Northern Inland NSW. It is growing and all involved welcome the formalisation of UNE’s support and place in the program,” he said.
Professor Duncan said the AGCAP program is in line with UNE’s priorities. “It’s important for us to not say to a student ‘this is how we do it, you fit with us’, rather ‘how do you need to be educated? What can we do to help you get the skills and qualifications that you need?” she said. “AGCAP students remain in their community while they study, then work and live in their community after graduation. They are tomorrow’s community leaders.”
UNE’s support includes covering costs for AGCAP participants who choose to attend the university and undertake a related degree. The AGCAP program sees participants complete a Certificate III in Agriculture and do one (paid) day of work per week within a partner agribusiness, while completing high school. The skills they gain along the way are formally recognised. The program gives rural and regional students an efficient pathway that they can take as far as they wish. After school, they can complete a Cert. IV or Advanced Diploma at AGCAP Partner Tocal Agricultural College and onto AGCAP Partner the University of New England. Previous courses undertaken by AGCAP students means they can take just two years to complete a bachelor degree in AgriFood Systems or a closely related degree.
AGCAP began in Narrabri, when ‘Make It Work Foundation’ volunteers sought to develop a program that would help address the agribusiness labour needs of the region and reduce the flow of quality young people to the major cities. “AGCAP provides a head start on an agribusiness career and education pathway. We are getting young people engaged with the industry and practical training earlier and it is working,” Mr. Stewart said.
“We will see AGCAP fast-track locals into a UNE degree who probably would not have considered going to university. They will be able to work while they study and have they UNE time covered. What an opportunity!”
A long-time AGCAP supporter, Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) received a $25,000 grant towards AGCAP participation growth, from the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Programme. Now completed, the project produced promotional resources and saw many schools visited.
“AGCAP is a homegrown initiative and RDANI is proud to help get the message out,” said RDANI Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson.
“Our Project Officer, Gary Fry, met with many of the passionate and professional high school agriculture teachers and careers advisors around the region. It is fantastic to see the drive that those individuals and the broader Education Department has to put students first, as demonstrated through supporting innovative approaches like the AGCAP program.”
Checkout AGCAP videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45mh9N8evAw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8gFzNLQF_Y or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxbKw366qsA