Tue, Mar 26, 2024 8:00 AM

Upskilling staff makes positive difference


Eloise Martyn

Sherry River dairy farmer Jess Paewai reckons you are never in a position to not be able to learn more or extend your networking.

Jess, alongside her partner Gary Omlo, are contract milkers; self-employed dairy farmers who manage a farm and are paid a negotiated set price per kilogram of milk solids produced. They milk around 730 cows, which requires the assistance of a few employees.

Recently Jess chose to complete two Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO) courses - biosecurity, and animal health including calving.

“I had seen the benefits firsthand of others going through Primary ITO,” Jess explains.

“I met other likeminded people from the area and something I took away was how different farms had different protocols, some had good ideas that I have implemented on the farm here. If there is an easier or improved way to do something then why not do it.”

Jess is an experienced dairy farmer and says that the courses built on her existing knowledge.

“The courses have also given me confidence to know that I am doing the right things, especially regarding biosecurity.”

Wakefield-based Kirstie Dodds is Primary ITO’s local training adviser for the meat, fibre, and dairy sectors, this means that she organises, delivers, and assists those who attend the courses.

“Before working for Primary ITO I had completed a course through them to become an AI Tech (artificial insemination technician) so I know from my experience how helpful Primary ITO can be,” Kirstie says.

“I help deliver courses for dairy, sheep, beef, and deer sectors.”

Kirstie says that sometimes employers are cautious about investing in training staff on the off chance they resign, however, she is quick to point out that it is better to train your staff even with the risk of them departing rather than not train your staff and have them stay.

“Having trained staff on the farm has a great financial impact.”

Jess agrees that having trained staff makes a positive difference.

“Train your staff so they can lead. We have trained our staff, they are fully equipped with knowledge and confidence which means we don’t have to worry. We can take worry-free time off the farm here and there,” she says.

The learnings are a mix of practical and theory and are delivered in a way that means employees can still work while learning.

“I did the majority of it online, I sent in photos and videos of what I was doing,” Jess says.

“I found the courses cool, it was great to meet other people from the area and learn about simple steps that we can take or change on the farm to prevent biosecurity risks like M. Bovis and TB. “I think everyone at all stages in the dairy industry should consider expanding and upskilling.”

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