Steph Cooke leans on a gate in front of a canola crop.

The successful AgSkilled program has been expanded to include training across a wider range of agricultural sectors and extended until 2023, in a massive boost to the industry’s workforce.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government has committed $15 million to AgSkilled 2.0 to upskill the state’s primary producers in plant-based sectors of the agricultural industry.

“Drought and COVID-19 has shown that it’s never been more important to develop a locally-based workforce, and this program will do exactly that,” Ms Cooke said.

“Our farmers have not been immune to the challenges of the last few years, but AgSkilled 2.0 means that they can upskill, and put themselves in a better position to quickly respond to improved seasonal outlooks and recover from future droughts.

“The expanded program targets emerging needs and key areas of production, including horticulture, viticulture and rice growing in addition to the cotton and grain covered in the original program.”

The expansion comes off the back of the success of the original AgSkilled program, and Steph Cooke said it would continue until 30 June 2023.

“The original program delivered training to 5,227 people, over 849 courses across 189 locations to support cotton and grains farmers in regional NSW,” Ms Cooke said.

“Not only does this upskill primary producers, it also acts as a career pathway, meaning our innovative agriculture sector can secure the skilled workforce it needs. 

The training is complemented by a range of other Training Services NSW initiatives to support regional NSW. For more information, visit www.training.nsw.gov.au.