Fifteen trainees have started new careers on stud farms across the country this week, thanks to a partnership between Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) and Scone TAFE.
The group have spent the last three weeks at Scone TAFE as part of a new Fast Track training program where they have received tuition on many aspects of breeding and the thoroughbred industry: from how to care for pregnant mares to bandaging and treatments, plus lectures on conformation and understanding pedigrees.
On Monday they commenced full time positions on major farms, where they will continue with on the job learning.
The trainees return to TAFE in late November for another three-week training block as they work towards achieving a Certificate III qualification in Horse Breeding.
TBA designed the Fast Track program earlier this year as a response to the challenges of finding qualified staff to work on breeding farms.
“We have a great bunch of trainees who are all enthusiastic and wanting to learn and get on in the industry,” TBA chief executive Tom Reilly said.
“Farms across the country are finding it increasingly difficult to find good workers so we felt TBA should take a leadership role in recruiting these people.
“The course was designed to create a career pathway for those who already had a background with horses but maybe didn’t know that breeding could provide them with a job.”
Among the intake is a beautician seeking a career change, a university student who has deferred his studies at Melbourne University, a qualified chef and the former owner of a Potts Point speciality sports shop.
Six of the group had done some work in racing stables before.
Almost 130 people applied for this year’s program, with the successful candidates having to undertake two rounds of interviews before being accepted.
Thirteen farms are taking trainees, including Sledmere, Godolphin, Kitchwin Hills, Davali, and Holbrook in the Hunter, as well as Three Bridges in Victoria and Mill Park in South Australia.
Newhaven Park principal John Kelly, who was involved in the selection process, said the course would prove invaluable for the breeding industry.
“When I interviewed these kids it was like a breath of fresh air – to hear their enthusiasm and their positivity,” said Mr Kelly, who is taking a trainee at his farm in Boorowa, NSW.
“Like a lot of farms we struggle to find staff and in recent years, when you advertise a position you just don’t get the response you would like.
“I’ve no doubt that Fast Track has been able to attract youngsters by creating a pathway and the TBA has ensured all participating farms are going to make an effort to develop these trainees and bring them along so that they stay in the industry for the long term.”
As well as formal learning on equine subjects, trainees are being tutored in areas to help their personal development.
Among these broader learning opportunities are basic computer skills, understanding personal finance, first aid, safe driver training and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
As well as organising the program and finding the trainees, TBA has supported Fast Track by meeting the tuition costs for the students at TAFE.
“We are committed to developing strategies to help the long term labour shortage and Fast Track has been a good start, but we’re determined to build on the program next year and ensure we’re recruiting even more trainees,” added Mr Reilly.
Anybody who is interested in applying for the traineeship should visit tbaus.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org