Investing in people and attracting staff to the feedlot industry

03 December 2018

Attracting and retaining staff is a key issue for Australian agriculture, and the feedlot sector is no exception. Sifting through the industry job adverts it doesn’t take long see the high demand and competition for filling employment positions in feedlots.

The Australian Lot Feeders’ Association is about to tackle this head on with the ‘Australian Feedlot Sector Career Development and Training Strategy and Implementation Plan’.

 ALFA’s vision in this space is to have a feedlot industry that attracts, retains and grows a professional and skilled workforce through the provision of a career development pathway and delivery of associated training, professional development and support networks.

The purpose of the strategy is to deliver on this vision. When completed the Australian feedlot sector, its businesses and current and prospective employees will have access to a career development pathway and suite of training options and tools designed to attract, retain and grow the capacity of the feedlot work force.

The strategy was borne out of research conducted in 2016-17 into the training needs of the feedlot industry. Undertaken by well-respected meat industry training organisation, MINTRAC, this work outlined several ways the feedlot sector could be more strategic in investing into and building industry capability. It followed wide consultation with individual companies and workshops with interested stakeholders.

ALFA’s Feedlot Management Committee considered the recommendations from this work and identified the need to develop a pathway for the attainment of skills through training, professional development and support.

This was also in response to the observation that there is currently general variability in the provision of these resources and in some instances gaps in training and professional development opportunities for feedlot employees.

The strategy identifies key employment ‘groupings’ in the feedlot environment including the positions of - General Hand, Leading Hand, Supervisor and Manager/Feedlot Professional - and then outlines a training pathway and options for each of these.

The pathway has been designed to identify what training and training tools are needed and if this training is:

  • Certified Core Skills Training – Such as formal Certificate III or certified Animal Welfare officer training,
  • Non-Certified Core Skills Training – Such as IT training, management training and ALFA’s Milling and Nutrition workshops for example,
  • Personal and Professional Development – Such as Margin and People Management (MPM), TRAIL and Australian Rural Leadership,
  • Supportive Frameworks - Such as ALFA Alumni and Key Industry Groups Focusing on Lot Feeding for example,
  • Recognition of Excellence - Such as ALFA’s young lot feeder Award and other awards and scholarships.

Across this backdrop ALFA has identified a matrix of what training, tools and courses are currently available for each employee category. We have also identified areas of training that we can partner with existing providers and then work to customise tools or courses specifically for the feedlot industry.

And finally, we have also identified where nothing is in place and a body of work will need to be undertaken to develop new training that meets industry needs.

The pathway when fully developed will enable feedlot employees, and prospective employees, to identify which employment level they are in, or would like to aspire to, and what training is available to them to excel in that role or to grow professionally and progress their feedlot industry career.

The ‘Australian Feedlot Sector Career Development and Training Strategy and Implementation Plan’ is an ambitious 4-year investment. A key outcome will be a web-based portal that will house the matrix and all the information and training resources needed for the feedlot industry.We are currently seeking funding support to invest in the project and development of the resources.

The strategy is not to say ALFA has been sitting on its laurels in this space. One of the great successes of ALFA is its commitment to training and investing in people. ALFA has for many years held its very popular workshop series in Animal Welfare, Heat Load Management, and Milling and Nutrition; and invested in young people through ALFA's Margin and People Management (MPM) Program amongst other activities.

The opportunity presented by the research and which is now part of the strategy is to build on this strength and provide a more structured and comprehensive approach to investing in our people and attracting staff to the feedlot industry.

ALFA sees the ‘Australian Feedlot Sector Career Development and Training Strategy and Implementation Plan’ as a critical element in building Industry Capability; a key priority of the Meat Industry Strategic Plan 2020.

More importantly though we see this plan as a very important tool in helping feedlots attract, retain and grow a professional and skilled workforce for their operation into the future.