Cotton Australia receives funding boost for training picker operators in QLD

Cotton Australia has secured Queensland (QLD) Government funding to deliver a series of task-specific workshops, aimed at providing valuable training in rural and regional centres throughout the state.

The announcement is part of the QLD Governments’ Micro-credential Program, which will upskill Queensland’s existing workers or job seekers by enabling the provision of training in specific skills.

The Micro-credentialing Program is a key action of the ‘Good people. Good Jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022-2032’ to skill Queenslanders now and into the future. As part of that program a total of $3.4 million was provided for 17 projects to upskill more than 7500 Queenslanders.

Paul Sloman, Cotton Australia’s workforce policy officer said the $168,000 (ex-GST) will provide workshops to solve one of the most important workplace skills shortages for cotton growers.

“Cotton pickers are technologically advanced pieces of machinery, and they are worth in excess of $1.5m each so anyone who wants to drive one to help a grower pick their crop, has to know what they are doing. This will help fill that gap in Queensland.”

Under the funding package, Real Skills Ag Training will deliver 10 workshops across QLD cotton producing regions commencing in February 2024, allowing 70 Queensland staff from cotton growing businesses to be upskilled in cotton picker operations. At this stage, workshops are planned for:

  • Emerald
  • Theodore
  • Darling Downs x 3
  • St George
  • Dirranbandi
  • Talwood
  • Goondiwindi
  • Mungindi (QLD side only)

“If even half those people are then available to utilise their new skills that would be a fantastic result for our growers and the Queensland economy, because that activity generates income in each of those locations,” Mr Sloman said.

The workshops will see a heavy focus on safety, problem solving and general operation of the current model John Deere round bale cotton pickers. Participants will receive on-going access to course content, videos and mentoring.

Mr Sloman acknowledged and thanked the QLD government on behalf of all growers. “This funding will ensure trainees receive skills that are fully transferrable and recognisable across the Australian cotton industry.”

Previous picker training delivered in Moree NSW
Previous picker training delivered in Moree NSW