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Bridging course helps international students fill labour shortage in Australia


A new international student pathway is fostering the next generation of agribusiness entrepreneurs and leaders.

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The Ironwood Institute in Adelaide has begun Graduate Diploma of Agribusiness, a bridging program aimed at transitioning international agricultural studies graduates into completing a Masters degree in agribusiness at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.

Based in Adelaide, the Ironwood Institute is South Australia’s first private college to teach agribusiness and horticulture and has enrolled nine international students in its new course.

Ironwood Institute CEO Navtej Bal said that although South Australia is a leader in agribusiness and is renowned for its premium produce, the agricultural sector has grappled with shortages at all levels of its workforce for decades.

According to the Primary Industries Skills Council, an additional 2800 people will need to be employed by South Australian farmers to meet business demands in the coming years.

Bal said that neighbouring countries in South East Asia have abundance of workers who can be trained up to meet this shortage.

“The purpose in the past few years has been to create a new generation of agri-entrepreneurs … not just with technical ability, but having the overall entrepreneurial skills,” Bal said.

He said the international students could work up to 20 hours a week to gain experience in the agricultural industry, which helps both the students and the farmers.

The Ironwood Institute has signed partnerships with agricultural institutions from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Bhutan to support exchange programs for overseas students and collaboration between the organisations.

The nationally accredited institute works closely with industry organisations in Australia and internationally to identify what skills are needed in future workers.

Camilo Espraza, the head of agribusiness at the school, said the emergence of innovative technology is broadening agriculture’s appeal as a career field.

“The use of technology, drones, tractors, those technologies are making it more attractive for younger generations to take an interest in working in the agricultural sector,” he said.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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