In­sight for grow­ing in­dus­try

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

AS the only course of its kind in Aus­tralia, the Mas­ter­class in Hor­ti­cul­tural Busi­ness bridges an im­por­tant ed­u­ca­tional gap by pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal com­mer­cial skills for grow­ers and man­agers in pro­duc­tion hor­ti­cul­ture.

Led by the Tas­ma­nian In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­ture at the Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia and funded through Hort In­no­va­tion the mas­ter­class has just started its sec­ond year with par­tic­i­pants from around Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing five from Tas­ma­nia.

Last year, 18 peo­ple grad­u­ated from the first mas­ter­class, and 28 are cur­rently en­rolled for 2018, in­di­cat­ing sig­nif­i­cant de­mand from peo­ple working in the sec­tor.

Mas­ter­class di­rec­tor at TIA, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Alis­tair Gra­cie, said the course was sup­ported and guided by a steer­ing com­mit­tee of lead­ers in the hor­ti­cul­tural sec­tor.

“This course was sought by the na­tional hor­ti­cul­tural sec­tor, and we de­vel­oped and de­liver it with the in­ten­tion of meet­ing in­dus­try needs,” he said.

The mas­ter­class aims to have a trans­for­ma­tive ef­fect on the ca­reers of peo­ple in­volved and their busi­nesses, and of­fers a path­way to fur­ther stud­ies.

“Ex­pe­ri­ences of the 2017 par­tic­i­pants show that the course has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact, not only for their busi­ness but at a per­sonal level, such as de­cid­ing to con­tinue stud­ies at univer­sity,” he said.

Par­tic­i­pants are se­lected com­pet­i­tively on the ba­sis of their cur­rent in­volve­ment in a hor­ti­cul­tural busi­ness, a demon­strated drive for ex­cel­lence, and rec­om­men­da­tions from in­dus­try play­ers. They range in ex­pe­ri­ence from school leavers to se­nior com­pany man­agers.

“We wanted to de­velop a red hot course that in­dus­try would be proud of and keen to be part of, that’s ac­ces­si­ble, and where the learn­ings can be di­rectly im­ple­mented,” As­soc Prof Gra­cie said.

“And I think we’ve achieved that.”

“One of the most valu­able com­po­nents of the mas­ter­class is the op­por­tu­nity to learn di­rectly from in­dus­try lead­ers and gain in­sights into other busi­ness mod­els.”

The 10-month course is largely de­liv­ered on­line and also fea­tures three in­ten­sive face-to-face events, fol­lowed by field trips to lo­cal hor­ti­cul­ture busi­nesses.

Tim Reid, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Reid Fruits, ex­ports Tas­ma­nian cher­ries to more than 20 coun­tries around the world. He hosted a visit by the mas­ter­class par­tic­i­pants.

“There are a lot of peo­ple in­volved in the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­tries who un­der­stand a lot about pro­duc­tion but don’t un­der­stand a lot about be­yond the farm gate and op­por­tu­ni­ties for mar­ket­ing and val­ueadding,” Mr Reid said.

“I think that’s where the course is re­ally fan­tas­tic.”

As­soc Prof Gra­cie said the UTAS course also drew on in­ter­na­tional ex­per­tise.

He said it had been de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with global lead­ers in hor­ti­cul­tural re­search at the Wa­genin­gen Academy in the Nether­lands, Lin­coln Univer­sity of New Zealand and UTAS.

The course cov­ers sub­jects such as sup­ply chain man­age­ment and lo­gis­tics, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and law, global trends and in­ter­na­tional busi­ness, and hor­ti­cul­tural mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The 2018 course has at­tracted 23 schol­ar­ships worth $10,000 each from the prune, nurs­ery and veg­etable in­dus­tries, and for the first time from the sum­mer fruit, ap­ple and pear and cherry sec­tors.

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