South African delegates inspect the Warwick campus of Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE this week.
South African delegates inspect the Warwick campus of Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE this week.

Warwick TAFE in limelight

THANKS to media coverage reportedly “worth half-a-million dollars” of its jackeroo and jillaroo program aimed at migrants, the Warwick TAFE campus has been thrust into the international limelight and could soon become aglobal learning hub.

So much so, a dozen parliamentarians from KwaZUlu-Natal in South Africa visited the Dragon Street campus of the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE (SQIT) this week to see what’s on offer.

This made up the third visit in two weeks, with off-shore parties also coming from China and Korea after the course received global media attention including Australian television programs Lateline and The 7pm Project, US newspapers and the Middle-Eastern news network Aljazeera.

With more than half of its participants – from countries such as Afghanistan and Burma – successfully employed in the rural industry in South East Queensland after completion, the unique course combining English language skills and agricultural skills has become a major drawcard for the Southern Downs.

SQIT Locational Director and Director of Business and Education David Taylor said the international community was looking to learn the best agricultural practices of which the jackeroo course was beneficial.

“We have the facilities and the staff to provide the best standard of agricultural training,” Mr Taylor said.

“The skills students learn are the same no matter what the environment.”

Mr Taylor described this week’s visit by the South African delegation as “very positive”, and despite being inearly discussion stages, said the visits were all part of an ongoing international push.

“I talked to the group this week about the structure we have in place and our nation-ally-recognised system of training and good practice on the farm,” he said.

“I hope they can learn through our system and that it would include them sending some students here.”

Though funding is yet to be secured for a possible further intake of students, Mr Taylor hoped the course would continue and hit the jackpot with the overseas market.

He said he couldn’t put afigure on how much revenue overseas students would bring to the area, but said he hoped it could firmly establish Warwick as Queensland’s largest rural training provider.

Currently in South Africa, the majority of farming is subsistence, with many farms being small and run by individual families.

There are hopes that a relationship with SQIT will provide workers with the skills that will enable the South African province to move towards a commercial farming industry.

While studying at SQIT, international students have the opportunity to learn a variety of agricultural practices including horse riding, cattle and sheep management and fencing.

But it’s not just the agricul-tural skills on offer that are attracting international attention; the jackeroo programs’ strong focus on work ethics and ex-perienced staff also appears to be a key selling point to the international market.

“It’s great to see the quality of our teaching staff being recognised internationally,” Mr Taylor said.

Kelly Monckton, who was one of the teachers of the course, said she thought in many other countries, often people have degrees and education but lack some of the practical skills needed to ensure their country’s industry runs smoothly.

“Our courses give them a chance to see how things work here in Australia,” she said.

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