22/10/2008 - 22:00

Training opportunities food for thought

22/10/2008 - 22:00

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FOUR years after it started training food industry employees, Victoria Park-based provider Australian College of Training is preparing to export its services to New Zealand and Asia.

Training opportunities food for thought

FOUR years after it started training food industry employees, Victoria Park-based provider Australian College of Training is preparing to export its services to New Zealand and Asia.

The company has signed a two-year agreement with New Zealand-based poultry processing group Tegal Foods to train the company's 70 employees.

It will also apply for registration this week to bring in overseas students, which will help to expand its base from 700 full-time trainees to about 1,200 by mid next year.

Australian College of Training managing director Terry Richards said there was a niche for food industry training throughout Asian markets, including India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.

"We'll be targeting mainly the diploma-level qualification for agri-food, because that's a key area," Mr Richards told WA Business News.

While meat processing and smallgoods training have generated the most revenue to date, stockfeed training is one of the fastest growing sectors for the business.

To cater for this, Australian College of Training has set up a $2.5 million agri-food training centre, which will train up to 20 people at a time and is due to open in about eight weeks.

The centre will include food skills laboratories, an internet cafe for online research, and studios for recording lectures and e-learning materials.

Mr Richards said he believed the facility was the only dedicated agri-food college in Australia, and would cater for up to 1,000 trainees each year.

The college will add a further nine training areas to its portfolio in November, including the agriculture sector.

Mr Richards, who was previously a quality assurance manager for Watsonia, said he established the company to provide a better quality of training to the food industry.

"You need to build a lot of scale to make it viable. We started developing training resources, and found the organisations that were accessing those resources didn't have appropriate trainers," he said.

"We decided to set up with [trainers] who had a food background."

Mr Richards said he estimated the business had invested about $2 million developing training resources, in addition to professional development for staff.

The company is also planning a partnership with Kansas University to deliver technical training for flour milling in Australia.

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