The wine industry has felt the acute pinch of labour shortages this harvest season, propelling members of Mornington Peninsula Wine to work directly with their local education network to provide active pathways for development and hands-on experience in viticulture and winemaking.
The restrictions on travel and access to skilled visa holders over the past two years of the pandemic, has placed an intense strain on the Australian wine industry’s labour market, as it has on many other agricultural industries.
With growing demand for agricultural graduates, ongoing economic uncertainty and an unemployment rate at 4.2 per cent, Mornington Peninsula Wine seeks to solve localised labour shortages by connecting with and empowering local students to build rewarding careers close to home.
Mornington Peninsula Wine Chief Executive Officer, Olivia Barrie said the industry directly and indirectly employs nearly 164,000 people across the country, but relies heavily on seasonal workers including skilled international contractors to support the annual wine grape harvest and ongoing production needs.
“The Mornington Peninsula’s wine industry is worth nearly $200 million to our local economy and it offers many diverse roles and career opportunities,” Barrie explained.
“The sector is experiencing labour and skills shortages, which is keenly felt across viticulture and vineyard management and more widely across winery, business and logistics also.
“The same labour challenges are true for many sectors of Australian agriculture so we are leading a proactive initiative to foster an inclusive, diverse and highly talented workforce right here on the Mornington Peninsula.”
Barrie said Mornington Peninsula Wine’s effort to increase the intake of local students to the industry has started with an awareness campaign for schools and career counsellors so they understand the opportunities available.
This initiative has been developed in partnership with Wine Australia, Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Authority (now Melbourne Water), and the Frankston and Mornington Peninsula Local Learning and Education Network (FMPLLEN) to ensure the pathways provided align with Vocational Education and Training (VET) Certificate courses in Horticulture, Viticulture or Winemaking.
FMPLLEN Structured Workplace Learning Coordinator, Angela Byatt said the key purpose of the program is to connect schools and students with industry, which not only delivers real outcomes for students but also aligns with the Victorian Government’s pending Senior Secondary Certificate reforms and Wine Australia’s vision to secure and support the development of more local talent in the industry.
“We’re really excited to be working with Mornington Peninsula Wine. We see this as the start of an enduring partnership and look forward to growing and promoting career pathways into the wine industry for young people in our region,” said Byatt.
“For the 29 schools in our region, this program fosters stronger connections with the industry and business
“The state government’s focus on applied vocational learning pairs perfectly with this initiative and we know the schools and students are especially grateful for actual connections they are making in our community.
“It’s already empowering students by giving them a real chance to explore wine and viticulture as a career option and to network with the right people who could one day be a future employer, mentor or colleague,” she said.
Wine Australia has created a nationwide roadmap for the industry to secure talent for the wine industry, addressing the urgent need for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled jobs in the vineyard and winery.
Mornington Peninsula Wine is in the initial stages of activating this roadmap and intends to lead a more comprehensive program of engagement and skill development with schools and the future generations of local wine producers.
Byatt said keeping young people in the local industry would not only help to solve unemployment challenges but create longer term support for local wine business.
“The wine industry in our region provides such a vast array of career pathways for young people,” she said.
“It is important to bring more young people into the industry to ensure its future success. Young people will also bring new ideas and fresh thinking into the industry.
“MP Wines and the FMPLLEN are embarking on a number of initiatives to promote the industry to schools and students in our area with the aim to encourage career pathways.
“The FMPLLEN and the local wine industry is committed to supporting young people in our region by offering a range of work experience and work placement opportunities to support their vocational studies.
“This gives the students the opportunity to apply what is learnt in the classroom into a real-world context and the employer an opportunity to identify future recruits into the industry.”
Schools and students interested in a career in wine or viticulture can contact FMPLLEN on 03 8679 3422.
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