NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / October 27, 2022 / CNH Industrial
Labor shortages have long been an issue in the agriculture industry. But an initiative is aiming to increase the staffing pool and boost the employment opportunities for a very deserving group of Australians.
Operation Grain Harvest Assist began in Western Australia before last year's harvest. It has now been piloted through Longerenong College in Victoria, with support from CNH Industrial brand Case IH and one of the company's dealers, O'Connors.
Last month, 18 former defense force personnel learned about the grains industry and the operation of farm machinery. Now, they are looking to assist farming businesses during the busy harvest season.
David Hair, O'Connors' Executive Senior Sales Manager, said they were approached by farmer and returned service person Ian Hastings, and Royal Australian Armoured Corps officer Lt-Col Garry Spencer AM. Ian and Garry had already been discussing how to get Operation Grain Harvest Assist running through a leading agriculture training institution.
O'Connors and Case IH have coordinated their apprentice training through Longerenong College for many years. So it was an easy decision to become involved in this exciting initiative.
"This program helps achieve two big objectives: offering employment opportunities for returned service people and addressing the considerable labour shortfalls we have across the grain-growing industry," David said.
"Through undergoing this training, the participants could undertake everything from operating harvesters and driving tractors with chaser bins, to unloading grain trucks and even working in grain-handling facilities. This initiative fulfills two critical needs and we're proud to have been involved in it and to meet this amazing group of individuals who have done so much for their country during their many years of service."
Last month was an intensive week of training at the college. Indoors, it involved theory on machinery and broad-acre farm production and training in a combine simulator. Outdoors, participants got up close to the two Case IH Axial-Flow combines used at Longerenong. They also visited two local farms.
David said it had been a pleasure for his team to meet the 18 program participants. They possess a combined 450 years of service in the Australian defense forces. And many of them had risen to the top of their respective fields.
"They're now looking for new challenges and it's been so rewarding for us to introduce them to the many opportunities within the agriculture sector, and hopefully connect them with local farmers who can use all the help they can get, particularly during the looming harvest season," he said.
Case IH was the program's major sponsor - with O'Connors' dealerships, MacDon Australia, Muddy River Agricultural and Waringa Enterprises among other contributors. The company's General Manager, Pete McCann, said it was exciting to see the achievements so far and the potential for the agriculture industry going forward.
"Operation Grain Harvest Assist helps provide new paths for our returned service men and women, to whom our nation owes so much, and it's also important to Case IH to support an initiative that can help Australian farmers meet their labor needs and increase the staffing pool for the agriculture sector, which, like so many industries at present, is struggling to find the number of workers it needs," Pete said.
The goal is to continue the program through Longerenong College, David said. Then expand further in the years to come.
SOURCE: CNH Industrial
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