Addressing one of the key challenges of the mango industry: bringing new talent in

Identified in the Mango SIAP Strategic Investment Plan for 2017-2021 was a key challenge addressing a lack of skilled workforce and an aging industry. To solve this issue, Hort Innovation have partnered with program delivery partners Rimfire Resources and Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) with an aim to increase graduate interest in careers across the Australian horticultural sector, including mangoes.

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Commencing in 2017, the Graduate Engagement Program has two key objectives; attracting high quality new entrants and supporting their development to become future leaders that are passionate about the sector. Now with two successful years moving through 2019 sees an all-time high of 21 available placements, so there are plenty of opportunities for forward thinking industry partners to get involved.

Coordinated by Rimfire Resources, the program has two phases; a 10-week internship at a host company (Phase 1), and a graduate year employment with first class industry specific leadership training (Phase 2).

Phase 1 begins with your business choosing a specific project and scope of work that a university student can complete during their internship that delivers value to the business and builds job ready skills for the student. All going well, Phase 2 commences once the student has graduated (usually the end of the same year) and comprises of 12-months, full-time graduate employment within your business and a high quality and targeted leadership training component delivered by ARLF.

The program is co-funded by Hort Innovation’s Hort Frontiers Fund and delivers exceptional value to any business that is serious about accessing some of the best young talent on offer including those that might not have considered the Hort Industry as their future. The recruitment process is fully managed by Rimfire Resources, a niche service provider committed to the sector, but allows full control over the position, project and student selected by the host company. The program is designed to be wide reaching and encourages businesses to consider roles that are beyond the traditional scope of those studying horticulture or agronomy. Previous positions have included marketing, quality control, mechatronics engineers as well as the more traditional agronomy positions. The programs’ aim is to attract the best young talent available at a university level and this is facilitated by offering an $8,000 scholarship to accompany their internship, followed by a competitive graduate salary when they successfully progress to Phase 2. The leadership training valued at $7,000 is also very attractive to our future leaders and as part of their first graduate year of employment adds tremendous value to their career development.

Connor Bourke is one of the 2018 participants and has recently moved into the graduate placement stage of the program with Manbulloo, working as a Horticulturalist (Quality Systems).

“I have been lucky enough to have the very knowledgeable and experienced Quality Manager as a mentor,” Connor said “… who has patiently taught me an enormous amount of invaluable information. Even after a few months in the company, I still have a lot to learn as my role involves me understanding all aspects of mango production and distribution. The managing director has a compelling vision for the company’s future and is constantly adjusting her long-term planning with ‘big picture’ ideas and surrounding herself with people with a wide range of expertise in necessary fields. This makes Manbulloo a very exciting company to be working for”.

Two mango businesses have already taken advantage of what this program has to offer. Email Angus Guthrie from Rimfire Resources at gradlink@rimfireresources.com.au or call 1300 380 701 to see how your business can be involved and work towards future proofing your business and the larger industry by developing future industry leaders.