11/02/2009 - 22:00

Food focus for college

11/02/2009 - 22:00


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IF you want to connect with industry as a training provider, you have to have the champions of that industry.

Food focus for college

IF you want to connect with industry as a training provider, you have to have the champions of that industry.

This is the philosophy of Terry Richards, who, with his wife Christina, recently opened Western Australia's first dedicated food and agriculture vocational college through their national company, Australian College of Training.

"It'll cost you accordingly, but if you want to have the eye of industry, you've got to grab the leaders of that industry," Mr Richards said.

Both food technicians with qualifications in education and training, the Richards employ multi-skilled people for the 12 staff at the new $2.5 million campus, in Victoria Park.

From its inception five years ago, the college has grown from a home business to an award-winning national training provider, winning the 2008 WA Training Excellence Award and the 2008 Australian Training Award.

Mr Richards said the five-year growth had been a rollercoaster ride.

"The niche we have found is that there's a lot of funding floating around for training and there's been alot of access to that, but the programs have been very light on in the training side," he told WA Business News.

"What we've done is extremely intensive and at the end of the training programs people are competent."

The college has delivered 800 full qualifications and has a high completion rate of 92 per cent.

It will soon offer 47 more qualifications as a result of demand from industry.

While the company has positioned itself as a food and agriculture training provider, it also works in the mining sector.

"It's anything to do with food," said Mr Richards.

"We do food retail training. The idea of the campus is that we can now cater for any training across the whole food chain."

Mr Richards said the college brought competition into the market and offered a greater degree of flexibility to industries that used it to train their employees.

"We probably attend workshops far more regularly and we'll come to you rather than you come to us," he said.

"In the food sector most of the larger companies run three shifts over 24 hours a day. We'll send people to train across the whole 24 hours of the day."

Mr Richards said in the past, the college had only delivered minimal training into the Wheatbelt because of the region's low population; but new school-based apprenticeships would allow them to service those regions a lot more.

Mr Richards said there was a shortage of people in the food industry because its margins were low and it couldn't compete with the high wages being paid in the mining industry.

But, there had been a shift of people back into the food industry of recent times.

Speaking at the official opening of the new campus, Training Minister Peter Collier said it was pleasing to see a registered training organisation working closely with industry.

"This will be an exciting year for the college, as it will become involved in delivering apprenticeship training for the first time," Mr Collier said.


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