Food and Fibre Launches Careers Advisory Panel


1 December 2021






Food and Fibre Great South Coast is proud to launch the inaugural Careers Advisory Panel – a collaborative careers innovation from the food and fibre industry designed to showcase diverse and surprising food and fibre careers – at the Killara Centre in Camperdown on Wednesday, 1 December.

Research shows that by 2035, food and fibre jobs in the Great South Coast will grow by 30%. Of these new jobs, at least 39% will require a vocational qualification and 19% will require a university degree.

However, fewer young people and graduates are choosing a food and fibre career thanks to misconceptions about the industry.

The Careers Advisory Panel is designed to bridge this gap. Featuring 15 prominent food and fibre industry champions, Careers Advisory Panel Ambassadors will tell their own stories to shine a light on the variety of career opportunities on offer – whether on a farm, in a lab or protecting the environment.

Careers Advisory Panel Chair, Jonathan Jenkins, said: “There is a real need for food and fibre careers education delivered to young people and graduates all over Australia. Unfortunately, we know that students just aren’t getting it in most schools.

As Careers Advisory Panel Ambassadors, we’re determined to fix that. Our role is to work in partnership with students, graduates and the education sector to have real conversations about the literally thousands of career pathways in food and fibre.”

Lower than average matriculation rates in our region is one systemic contributor to the food and fibre skills shortage. Working with students and teachers where they are – in schools and vocational education settings – is central to showcasing the innovative and diverse career opportunities in the sector and helping to identify career pathways. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only 11.5% of people in our region have a technical or tertiary qualification, compared to the 23.5% Victorian average.

Food and Fibre Great South Coast Chair, Georgina Gubbins, said: “The Careers Advisory Panel project is about genuine industry collaboration with the education sector.

“Farmers think long term. We understand the employment challenges we’ll face tomorrow as well as those we’ll face in ten years time, and we’re committed to addressing these challenges today by taking steps to promote food and fibre education into schools and other educational institutions right across the state”.

The Careers Advisory Panel is wholly reliant on the generous support of our funding partners, including the DemoDAIRY Foundation, The Gwen & Edna Jones Foundation, the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal/ABC Heywire Youth Innovation grant and Deakin University, Warrnambool.

DemoDAIRY Foundation Chair, Ralph Leutton, said: “The Careers Advisory Panel is a terrific example of local food and fibre innovations that the DemoDAIRY Foundation is proud to support. Our historic agricultural industries, like dairy production, need the next generation to keep them growing and flourishing into the future.

The Careers Advisory Panel is set up to do just that. By showing people what we have on offer in agricultural regions – a whole range of interesting, rewarding and cross-sector opportunities – we know more people will see that food and fibre has unlimited potential for anyone who wants to be involved, no matter what they want to do.”

More information about the Careers Advisory Panel Ambassadors can be found here:


Quotes attributable:

Alistair McCosh – Director Warrnambool Campus, Deakin University

“Programs like the Careers Advisory Panel are essential to showcasing the real-world opportunities in the regions, particularly the rapidly growing, high value south-west Victorian food and fibre industry.

Deakin University regularly engages with industry to support students and graduates to find career pathways that align with their values and aspirations. We’re excited to see the conversations sparked by the CAP which will encourage students to explore the exciting and rewarding career pathways available throughout the food and fibre supply chain.”


John Flett – Director Strategy & Research, South West TAFE

“South West TAFE is proud to be working with the Food and Fibre Great South Coast in the delivery of the CAP program. Attracting young people into the sector is vital and the Institute is actively working on a number of other projects that will assist that objective, as well as other initiatives Food and Fibre GSC has planned.”


Cr Anita Rank – Great South Coast Group Chair & Mayor Glenelg Shire

The Great South Coast Group commissioned the Food and Fibre Action Plan some years ago, which led to the creation of Food and Fibre Great South Coast as well as identifying an urgent need to address labour and skills shortages and the industry image of food and fibre as significant barriers to regional growth.  It is therefore with great delight that I commend Food and Fibre Great South Coast on undertaking the research to understand that our future job market growth in food and fibre will be 30% by 2035. Furthermore, the launch of the Careers Advisory Panel today is a crucial step towards connecting young people with these exciting and rewarding diverse career opportunities.

Having lived, worked and represented this region, I can say with confidence that a career in food and fibre is a step towards an unlimited future – whether it be owning and operating your own enterprise, to operating on a global scale, indoors or outdoors, creative or practical – the world is your oyster in the Great South Coast and it’s time we shared this proudly with people looking to embark on careers they can feel passionate about.”


Cr Ruth Gstrein – Mayor of Corangamite Shire

Corangamite Shire is a vibrant place to live and work.  With agriculture our biggest employer and most dominant land use, we understand the value of promoting rewarding careers in food and fibre.  What makes the Careers Advisory Panel different is that, for the first time, we’ll showcase the broad range of careers on offer to young people – be they in the great outdoors or in an office, creative or practical.

I’m looking forward to working together with Food and Fibre Great South Coast to show off the diverse career and lifestyle opportunities here in our beautiful shire.


Cr Ian Smith – Mayor of Moyne Shire Council

Agriculture is a vital part of Moyne, the industry is one of the shire’s biggest employers with 37 percent of the workforce employed in agriculture, forestry or fishing and an annual economic output of $680 million.

As a lifelong farmer myself, I know how rewarding a career in agriculture can be. Council also recognises the importance of the sector and has committed to ensuring it can continue to grow and evolve – but we need people to know what diverse career opportunities the sector has and how to go about getting involved.

I’m delighted to be working with Food and Fibre Great South Coast on this careers showcase to help highlight a career in agriculture doesn’t necessarily mean working in the paddock – it could be in the lab, in business management, environmental management or in food and fibre manufacturing.”


Cr Richard Ziegeler, Mayor of Warrnambool City Council

Warrnambool City Council congratulates Food and Fibre Great South Coast on the launch of the Careers Advisory Panel (CAP) program to promote career pathways in the food and fibre sector. The food and fibre sector is a primary driver of our regional economy yet we know our region has workforce and skills shortages that potentially limit its capacity to grow and prosper. With increasing levels of scientific application and technological advancement, the traditional perception of agriculture is rapidly changing, offering many exciting career opportunities. The launch of the CAP program is a wonderful initiative to communicate and advocate these opportunities to students and graduates to take up a career within our region’s food and fibre sector.”


Cr Bruach Colliton, Mayor of Southern Grampians Shire

 “Agriculture is the largest industry in  Southwest Vic and it provides significant opportunities. Innovation through technology is revolutionising how we produce and move our products. A career in food and fibre has changed dramatically. There are many exciting opportunities available now in food and fibre but Labour shortages threaten the future viability of the industry. Its critical that we champion food and fibre careers as the pathway for ongoing prosperity of all the Great South Coast communities. Programs such as the Careers Advisory Panel are a wonderful initiative to connect the young people in our region with what is a diverse and prosperous industry and a challenging and rewarding career path.”


Danny Finn – Curriculum Innovation Leader, Warnnambool Secondary College

“Warrnambool College is committed to providing students with every opportunity to succeed in their career, including through partnerships with industry programs like the Careers Advisory Panel.

Food and Fibre Great South Coast have designed a program with students in mind, thanks to their collaboration with our cohort and faculty. We look forward to continuing to work with the Panel to inspire students to choose meaningful careers based on sound advice and industry insight.”


Anne Murphy – Executive Officer Glenelg & Southern Grampians LLEN

The Glenelg & Southern Grampians Local Learning and Employment Network is thrilled to see programs like the Careers Advisory Panel emerge in the Great South Coast. The Panel will connect hundreds of young people to the exciting range of food and fibre careers on offer in our region in an entirely new way.

Our LLEN is collaborating directly with Food and Fibre Great South Coast to ensure the Careers Advisory Panel is curriculum-aligned and adds genuine value to careers education. With an ever-growing range of exciting food and fibre careers in the region and a decline in regional population growth, now is exactly the right time to drive industry participation through this innovative new program.


Matt Porter – Neil Porter Legacy

The Neil Porter Legacy is an active organisation that exposes students to the vast career opportunities in our region. Food and Fibre is a major employer, providing many job options to our youth. To know the Careers Advisory Panel is available to work with schools to promote these opportunities is an exciting prospect.


Andrea Vallance – Timboon Agriculture Project Coordinator

As an agribusiness owner and someone who is invested in rural communities I believe it is imperative to showcase and celebrate the myriad of opportunities and careers available paddock to plate right across our dynamic region.

The Timboon Agriculture Project has demonstrated to me that it is important to introduce passionate, articulate, real and relevant role models to young people to help them get that “aha” moment and gain an understanding and appreciation of the range of innovative and sustainable food and fibre careers available right across the Great South Coast.”


Jim Burrell – Career Development Coordinator, WestVic Dairy

Dairy Farming might not be everybody’s long term aspiration but work on a dairy farm offers a wide variety of skill development opportunities and it is far more than just milking cows.  Experience working in a dairy is a passport to many careers both in Australia and internationally.  Careers built on tertiary study or vocational training, but underpinned by your farming experience, are a gateway to your future.  Employment aside, it is also the first step to a business opportunity in wealth creation.



Media enquires:

Natalie Collard

Executive Officer

Ph: 0413 009 373