Cotton grower Ollie Volck, Central Highlands Cotton Growers Association president Aaron Kiely and Cotton Australia Regional Manager Renee Anderson.
Cotton grower Ollie Volck, Central Highlands Cotton Growers Association president Aaron Kiely and Cotton Australia Regional Manager Renee Anderson.

Cotton growers encourage next generation of ag students

THE Australian cotton industry has relaunched its Cotton Gap program which aims to attract a new cohort of students to the industry.

Cotton Australia is currently seeking expressions of interest from Central Queensland growers to host young people on farm in 2021 as part of the program.

The future-focused industry program exposes school leavers to the diverse range of careers available in the cotton industry while experiencing everything farm life has to offer.

Cotton Australia’s regional manager and Emerald cotton farmer Renee Anderson said it was a great opportunity for both growers and students.

“It’s all about encouraging new people that may not have been exposed to the cotton industry before,” she said.

“Young and enthusiastic learners can experience what we do and when they go off to uni or college they have networks and connections within the agricultural industry and quite often they come back on their summer holiday which is great for the farmers.”

Ms Anderson said if local farmers got involved it would help keep youth in the area, giving them employment opportunities.

The program was first launched in 2017, but it didn’t run last year because of the impact drought and reduced water allocations had on jobs in rural industries.

READ: Four vital groups share $272,000 in drought funds

Cotton Australia education coordinator Jenny Hughes said the relaunch of Cotton Gap engaged with the next generation of workers, to help secure a skilled and enthusiastic workforce for seasons to come.

“The closure of international borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic will see thousands of students who had planned to travel overseas for a gap year now looking for alternate experiences here in Australia,” she said.

“This is a great opportunity for the Australian cotton industry to attract a new group of students to experience farm life and all it has to offer as a future career pathway.”

Ms Hughes said the first-hand experience for school leavers would deepen their overall understanding of the systems and processes in place within agriculture.

“This is an opportunity for school leavers to break out of known constraints, get inspired, explore, act and rethink their future career path,” she said.

For more information about the program visit the website.