Vocational Education & Training

AGCAP on-farm trainees (some while at school)

Growers discuss traineeships with students at Wee Waa High School

Students undergoing vocational training through the Australian Agricultural Colleges Corporation (AACC)

School students get a taste for training while on the AACC Cotton Taste Program

Vocational education and training (VET) is that part of tertiary education (post secondary education) and training which provides accredited training in job related and technical skills. Qualifications range from certificate II to certificate IV, and diploma and advanced diploma. Individuals can be trained in part qualifications or 'skills sets'


VET aims to provide people with the skills and knowledge they require to:

  • enter the workforce for the first time
  • re-enter the workforce after absences
  • train or retrain for a new job
  • upgrade their skills
  • move into further study in VET or university.

VET provides a vast array of subjects and programs, ranging from the farming to agribusiness to ginning and commercial seed processing. VET offers a range of nationally recognised qualifications including certificates that can be completed in a day through to advanced diplomas that generally require two years of post-school study.

Why choose VET?
VET provides skills and qualifications for all types of employment, excluding those which require a university degree. The flexibility of the system enables students to study one or two subjects to gain specific skills, without necessarily completing a full qualification.

Who undertakes VET?
Anyone over 15 years of age can access VET.

Who funds VET?
VET is largely funded by the Australian Government and state and territory governments and companies and individuals also contribute to training costs. Companies can contribute by purchasing training for their employees, while students contribute through the payment of course and administrative fees. Some students pay all their fees without receiving any government subsidies.

Who provides VET?
VET is provided by training organisations which register with the government to teach accredited courses (RTOs) and include government and private providers. For the cotton industry, they include:

Tocal offer services in NSW and lower Queensland and remotely. The New England Institute of TAFE offer services in Moree, Narrabri, Mungindi, Dirranbandi and St George. QATC offer services in Southern Queensland.
Schools also provide some vocational education and training. Known as VET in Schools, this nationally recognised training is available to all students as part of their senior secondary school education. This form of training offers students the chance to complete their secondary education, acquire work skills and gain a VET qualification.
There are various VET pathways available to school students, from programs offering a few hours per week to part time school based apprenticeships and traineeships, which combine training and paid work.

Where is VET delivered?
VET is delivered in a traditional classroom setting, in the workplace, on the net, by correspondence and in community venues, using a variety of methods to meet industry and individual needs. The learning options offered mean that students can learn at their own pace and in an environment which best suits their individual learning style.
VET may also be customised to meet the requirements of particular enterprises, each specific job skill and the ability of the student.

What qualifications are offered under the VET system?
The VET system offers a variety of qualifications, including certificates I, II, III and IV, diploma, advanced diploma, vocational graduate certificate and vocational graduate diploma.

What qualifications are most applicable to the cotton industry?
The vocational qualifications that relate to the cotton industry either on farm or in the supporting sectors such as agribusiness, commercial seed processing, production and testing, machinery and rural merchandising are available for download here.

Apprenticeships and traineeships bring together training and employment under a legal contract between the trainees, training providers (such as TAFE) and employers. Trainees receive a training wage which increases as they progress. In some cases, group training organisations employ the trainee and place them with a suitable employer.
Traineeships are available to all age groups (including students in secondary school), and can be undertaken on a part-time basis or full-time.
Employers are entitled to financial incentives when taking on new apprentices and trainees. These incentives also apply to employers who train or re-train their existing workers.

Interested in a trainee? Contact your local school or training provider.
For more information on the trainee system in NSW, click here; in QLD, click here.
Can I customise my VET course? I have a farming mixed enterprise and various existing skills.
Those who elect to undertake a VET qualification can sometimes customise the qualification to their needs by selecting the units most relevant to their work. A typical certificate or diploma undertaken by someone starting in the cotton industry may comprise the following units.

Click here to download more information on:

  • Certificate III in Agriculture for an existing worker on a cotton farm
  • Diploma in Agriculture for a farm manager or owner
  • Accredited short courses delivered by the VET sector

I have many staff who need training. Who can help advise on training options?
There are a number of organisations who can help organise training and provide support with workforce planning initiatives. Your local training organisation is a good place to start.
Rural Skills Australia (RSA) are a not-for-profit, independent organisation who provide advice and assistance on rural and related skills and training to individuals and rural enterprises. They can help growers define their training needs and then arrange suitable trainers and identify funding sources.
Much funding for VET training comes from the State Government. Contact NSW State Training Services on 13 28 11 and request to speak to your local Training Services Manager or Training Advisor for advice on funding options and providers.

Cotton Industry VET

Cotton Industry supported School Based Trainee Program (AGCAP)
In the Upper and Lower Namoi and Gwydir Valley several schools, local farmers, business owners and the NSW Department of Education and Communities have banded together to offer both vocational training in agriculture and regular paid work on farm to selected students in their local high schools while they complete their secondary schooling. The program, called Agricultural Career Access Pathway or AGCAP, has provided participating farmers, with a pipeline of up and coming enthusiastic farm support and the students with a clear direction, incentive and the means to stay in the region or go onto further studies in Agriculture. To hear from the perspective of AGCAP trainee employer James Kahl, click here. Information about becoming involved in AGCAP can be found here.

Emerald Cotton Traineeship Project

Cotton Australia Regional Manager Renee Anderson has been engaged by the University of Melbourne to drive a Cotton Traineeship Program in the Emerald region. The program involves students from Emerald Agricultural College, a small group of growers and a group training organisation. As part of this program selected students from the Emerald Agricultural College will work part time on cotton farms while completing their studies. The trainees are formally employed through a group training organisation. This means that the administrative burden is lessened for the growers, and it minimises difficulties if there is not enough work available as the trainees can work on a number of farms rather than be tied to one employer.



Cotton Australia
Education Coordinator Ali Briggs
02 9669 5222 or AliB@cotton.org.au
Rural Skills Australia
To contact your State Education and Training Advisor click here
NSW State Training Services
Phone: 13 28 11 or click here
Qld Department of Education, Training and Employment
Click here
Tocal College
Click here

New England Institute of TAFE
Click here

Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges
Click here
University of Queensland's Gatton Vocational Education Centre (UQ-GVEC)
Click here