REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Industry banking on calf cuteness to inspire career

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend.

Drouin Secondary College students Portia and Jordyn with MaxCare sales manager Adam Plant, after winning a prize for their ad campaign for the dairy sector in the 2020 online Cows Create Careers program.

Drouin Secondary College students Portia and Jordyn with MaxCare sales manager Adam Plant, after winning a prize for their ad campaign for the dairy sector in the 2020 online Cows Create Careers program.

Succession planning is not a new term to anyone with any kind of business, and for the most part it can seem a bit dry.

Unless you're talking about succession planning for an entire industry, and then it can be quite fun and hands on.

Like quite a few agricultural industries, dairy has an ageing workforce and they need a new crop of young people coming into the sector to keep it moving forward - in a whole range of careers.

Since 2004, the Cows Create Careers program has been helping introduce school-aged students to the dairy industry. The students meet people who work in the industry, do projects on dairy topics and - probably most effective - get to care for some dairy calves for a few weeks.

I've been aware of the campaign for a few years - even though it came out after I'd finished my school years - but for the past couple of years, I've played a small role as an industry advocate to a school in North Adelaide.

After a break last year, when the program went online, as so many things did, I was up to return to the school.

I thought I was ready, with all my information about what careers are an option in the dairy industry, and a not-that-exciting story about my path into the world of agricultural journalism, and even a few anecdotes about the exciting research being done.

Instead, I spent half hour, on my toes, being peppered with questions on everything from how do you know a cow is ready to be milked, to what animals do we get milk from and even why do we call it dairy.

To be honest, I don't know the answer to the last one, but otherwise, luckily my dairy trivia is relatively up-to-date, including knowledge of the dairy heifer a few years ago that sold for $251,000.

Since these programs are aimed at the late primary school/early high school years, it is hard to track the success rates of how many people might be considering a career in ag because of this exposure.

There are some good news stories that have emerged, such as the school that now shows at the Royal Adelaide Show because of their relationship with their assigned dairyfarmer, or the students who took on work experience and developed a closer connection to the sector.

Even if it doesn't necessarily eventuate into a career, there are still benefits from having people growing up a little bit aware of where food comes from, even if it is just the knowledge that only females produce milk and that you can't get it from a bull.

In case you are interested in filtering all the latest down to just one late afternoon read, why not sign up for The Informer newsletter?

More stuff happening around Australia ...