The 2017 AGCAP Enrichment Tour – A Real ‘Eye-Opener’ for Students

AGCAP returned to its roots recently with a keen crop of students benefiting from an ‘Enrichment Tour’.

Students from across the New England and Hunter Valley regions saw different types of agribusiness and met the employers of enterprises ranging from cotton farms to gins, seed distributors to researchers.

AGCAP founder, Russell Stewart, took the students around some of the industry-leading agribusiness and research facilities in our region, including the Cardale irrigation operation, Cotton Seed Distributors, Cotton Grower Services, the Auscott Cotton Gin, Sydney University Plant Breeding Institute, Australian Cotton Research Institute and Wilga feedlot at Bellata. Mr Stewart said the tour was a “real eye-opener” for the students. The employers they met made them feel wanted and needed, for they know that up-skilling quality young people for rural careers and retaining them in regional communities is vital to the future of their industry.

The enrichment tour was a chance to learn about the many facets of the agricultural industry in the north-west and meet some of its leaders.
AGCAP works by allowing chosen students to undertake a traineeship in Year 11, where they can do one day a week paid work, while studying for a Certificate III in Agriculture. There are then pathways to Tocal agricultural College and the University of New England.

The students described the tour and their AGCAP experience, generally, as a great opportunity.


No better time to look at agricultural careers

Mick Hay of Rimfire Resources believes there has never been a better time to look at the huge, and growing, range of agricultural and agribusiness careers.

In the article published in the Rural Weekly, Mr. Hay said; “I talk to schoolkids and tell them we’ve got graduates in this sector graduating with multiple job offers, and that’s quite unlike nearly any other sector out there.

“Our biggest issue as an industry is a lot of people don’t actually know that.

“It’s up to the industry as a whole to talk about and showcase these success stories”.

He said it no longer mattered what your interests were, because there was a good chance there would be an agricultural job to suit.

Please click this link to read the whole article – Rural Weekly article

AGCAP: Reaching out to Schools


Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) has communicated directly with schools in the region towards increased awareness of a program that can help address the rural and agribusiness skilled labour shortage and get young people a step ahead on a rewarding career path.

“RDANI has sent a letter and DVD video about the AgriBusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) program to almost 50 schools throughout the Northern Inland NSW region,” said RDANI Chair Russell Stewart. “It’s critical that our high schools are aware of the agribusiness career pathways open to their students. It was born from the need to highlight the options that can help keep quality young people in the bush.”

“I am confident that our educators are practical and work through their students’ options. They want what’s best for their students and that is now understood to be more than classes for the sake of classes. I urge our local principals or agriculture teachers to consider the AGCAP letter, watch the video and share it with students who might benefit from the program,” he said. “AGCAP helps to get rural careers started and keep quality young people in the bush.”

The awareness raising efforts about the AGCAP program have been developed with assistance from the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Programme, administered by the NSW Department of Industry.

RDANI is a long-time supporter and partner of AGCAP, producing a number of videos to show what it entails, how it has benefited young rural workers and addressed employer needs.

AGCAP is a proven initiative that leads to rewarding careers in the modern agribusiness industry. Commencing in Year 10, the AGCAP program sees participants complete up to a Certificate III in Agriculture and do one paid day of work per week within a partner agribusiness, while completing high school. The skills they gain along the way are formally recognised. The program gives rural and regional students an efficient pathway into AGCAP Partners, Tocal Agricultural College and the University of New England. Previous study undertaken by AGCAP students means there can be as little as two years to complete a bachelor degree in AgriFood Systems or Agriculture. The study and work options are flexible.

“While the second DVD focussed on employer and student testimonials, the third DVD focuses on the educators. The important message is that schools, employers, Tocal and UNE are now working together to provide better career pathways for young people in rural NSW,” Mr Stewart said.

The Principal of Tocal Agricultural College, Darren Bayley and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Annabelle Duncan, together with Regional Manager of Training Services NSW, Greg Poetschka featured in the DVD video. “These education providers are pioneering leaders in job-focused education and training in regional Australia. They explained in the video how they see AGCAP participants benefiting from the AGCAP program, how the students will fit into their institutions and most importantly, they spoke with a shared passion to get local young people the skills and education to advance their agribusiness careers,” said Mr Stewart. “There is real commitment to make a difference here. The UNE Vice-Chancellor has even promised scholarships to assist AGCAP participants.”

To view the latest video, search YouTube for Agribusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) for Educators 2016

To register your interest or find out more,

AGCAP at Youth Opportunities Expo

High school students throughout the New England flocked to UNE’s Lazemby Hall on Thursday 17 March, 2015 to improve their awareness of the opportunities that are available to them. The event was far more holistic than traditional careers expo, with over 40 stall holders ranging from education and training providers to emergency services, health related organisations and Regional Development Australia Northern Inland.


The Youth Opportunities Expo was prompted by a youth survey, conducted by Armidale Dumaresq Council and resulted from collaboration among numerous organisations. The event’s success, means it is unlikely to have been a one-off. “It was an ideal forum to promote the
RDANI supported AGCAP  (AgriBusiness Careers and Professions) program,” said RDANI Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson (pictured above) at the expo.Mr Axelsson said it was encouraging to see the amount of interest there is in education and training towards agribusiness careers among local teenagers, particularly girls.

For more information about AGCAP, go to or  watch at below.

Article originally published in RDA Northern Inland March 2016 Newsletter.

The AGCAP advantage

40683738_mCommencing in Year 10, the The Agribusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) program gives rural and regional students a pathway to agricultural college and onto university.  The pathway incorporates school, college and university, allowing students to gain industry endorsed qualification while spending a minimum amount of time away from their home town.


AGCAP also helps rural communities by building links with local industry and employers to create jobs and stem the loss of quality young people from regional Australia.

2015 saw the beginning of a trial where students could undertake a Certificate 3 Traineeship as part of the AGCAP program. This trial continues into 2016 and is anticipated to become another feature of the AGCAP program from 2017 onwards.

Year 10 students are eligible to participate in the AGCAP program by enrolling in the Primary Industries Framework or becoming a School Based Trainee (SBAT) in an agricultural related vocation.

SBAT registration is administered at the school level and is completed by the end of Term 3. This is followed by an AGCAP selection process including interview with industry representatives.

In just a few short years, AGCAP has become the partnership model of school, industry and higher education. Developed through a unique collaboration between the Make it Work Foundation (Narrabri Chamber of Commerce), the Department of Education and State Training Services.

The AGCAP governance committee manages the program and is responsible for maintaining its rigor and supporting the development of new pathways for students.

AGCAP has strong support

ARDA ARDA – Agribusiness Regional Development Association is developing partnerships with organisations who share their ambition to assist agribusiness develop for a vibrant future.

ARDA believes every innovation starts with a good idea and that is why they are assisting with the development of the AgriBusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) pathway to attract young people to rewarding careers in the modern agribusiness industry.

See more on the ARDA website

For further information about ARDA contact:
ARDA – Agribusiness Regional Development Association
1/1 Fitzroy Street Tamworth NSW 2340
Ph : 02 8003 7172

Tocal hosts new program

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0010.JPG This week Tocal College is hosting 21 secondary school students from throughout Northern NSW as a residential component of a Certificate II and III school based traineeship in agriculture.

The students will be trained in a number of skills areas to complement what they learn at school and on farms.

“We are delighted to be part of this new program and we look forward to it continuing for many years”. Mr Darren Bayley, Acting Principal said.

“There is a major skills shortage in agriculture at all levels – from those who work on farms through to those who service farms and undertake research. This program lays the foundation for students to commence a traineeship in practical farm activities and eventually, if they wish move through to a university qualification”. Mr Bayley said.

This is a first for NSW and it will provide great opportunities for students from regional areas to gain both the benefits of an association with a specialist institution such as Tocal College as well as the great resources they have in their own districts and schools.

To read the rest of the news release visit:

Enrichment tours

38506043_mEnrichment tours are a key focus of the program where students travel to specially chosen farms, research centres and peak industry organisations to experience modern agribusiness in action.

The enrichment tours allow students to extend their knowledge of the industry. In 2013 the first group of students visited enterprises such as cotton and beef operations as well as the I A Watson Grains Research Centre – University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute at Narrabri.

The enrichment tours provide AGCAP students with the opportunity to form a network of career support. They meet people who are shaping the industry at the grass roots level and students have been known to call on these people to help them find a job or direct their agricultural career.