Teachers cotton on to career opportunities

Teachers at Chesterfield Australia - cotton professional development

Teachers from the cotton districts of Goondiwindi and St George are participating in an initiative that will see better career pathways open up for students in Queensland’s iconic cotton industry. Starting today, the teachers will meet with producers, scientists and training providers as part of a two-day event being run by the Queensland Government and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

Director of Agribusiness Skills and Extension at the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) Geoff Johnston said the event would raise awareness of an important national industry with real career prospects for young people.

“Queensland’s cotton industry currently employs around 4500 people, and is currently estimated at $735 million when the value of cotton ginning is included,” Mr Johnston said. “While the industry was hit significantly by recent floods, which caused prolonged water logging in the Darling Downs and Theodore regions, overall we still expect to see an 86 per cent jump in production value from last year.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of Australia’s cotton industry, which is regarded as the most efficient in the world.”

Since the 1970s, producers have improved efficiency by 200% and can now produce enough cotton to provide a t-shirt to every person in China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“The industry’s current goal is to double water use efficiency over the next ten years.”

There are a range of occupations currently in demand in the cotton industry, including farm managers, gin yard operators and tradespeople. “The Queensland Government and industry are working together to develop a skilled workforce to meet this demand and continue their current successes, which is what today’s event is all about.”

The event is an initiative of the DEEDI and Skills Queensland Gateway Schools to Agribusiness program, being managed by Charlie Martin. “We have 12 teachers participating in the event, and they are all keen to see how they can incorporate career opportunities in the cotton industry into the schools curriculum,” Mr Martin said. “Over the two days the teachers will participate in the ‘Field to Fabric’ training course to gain an appreciation of the cotton industry across its supply chain, and then look at how the industry can be incorporated across their school’s curriculum.

“They will also evaluate current training pathways into the industry, and how to improve the opportunities for students by strengthening their partnerships with local industry contacts.

“Our goal is to evaluate and develop new teaching resources and learning activities that portray the research, technology and career pathways into the cotton industry for easy implementation into school programs.”

For more information on the Gateway Schools to Agribusiness program visit www.gatewayschools.qld.gov.au/agribusiness

Story and Photos:
Queensland Government
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation