Sugar millers are set to benefit from funded training through a project supported by the Australian Industry Group. 

A lack of funding over the years has meant industry-specific qualifications are not being used, says Ai Group’s Queensland Industry Skills Adviser - Manufacturing Lisa Gilbert. 

“Industry identified an issue that sugar milling qualifications weren’t being utilised in the training package,” Ms Gilbert said. 

“Because there was no funding in Queensland for the sugar milling qualifications, industry had to use non-accredited training and fee-for-service non-accredited training.” 

To address this issue, Ms Gilbert and fellow Queensland Industry Skills Adviser - Manufacturing Wayne Lee, after consultation with the Queensland Sugar Milling Industry, set out to determine what needed to be done to make training more accessible. 

“Wayne approached the SSO (Skills Service Organisation) and said ‘industry can’t use these. There’s no uptake of these qualifications because industry can’t access any funding. They’re not using them so what can we do to make it user-friendly?’ 

“Skills Impact have put a proposal together and have taken it to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC). They’ve approved the project. Now we’re in the very early stages of consultation.” 

Presently, there are two qualifications specific to the sugar milling industry: the entry-level Certificate II in Sugar Milling Support and the more advanced Certificate III in Sugar Milling Industry Operations. 

They are designed for trainees planning for roles such as refinery operator, sugar transport operator, sugar services operator, crushing assistant and for those working in sugar lab units. 

"During the scope of this project, those two qualifications are going to be deleted as per AISC direction because there have been zero enrolments in them. Basically, industry isn’t using them in an accredited format,” Ms Gilbert said. 

“However, units within them will continue to be used. 

“We don’t know yet how the new training is going to be structured but there will either be specialised sugar units within the food processing certificates or qualifications — or whether they will be skillsets within that.  

“The reason we want to put them in the food processing qualifications is that in Queensland, they’re on the funding list whereas the sugar milling ones aren’t.  

“Businesses can’t access funded training if they’re not on the Skills Priority List. 

“Not only that, but there are no RTOs (Registered Training Organisations) delivering those qualifications because if they’re not getting funding, they’re not going to create the learning and assessment materials needed. 

“Once this project is up and running, however, sugar millers are going to have access to funded training within the Queensland framework if we house them within the food processing qualifications. 

“It demonstrates what the VET (Vocational Educational and Training) sector is and how it’s supposed to work. 

“The significance to the Queensland sugar milling industry is huge. 

“It’s really exciting.” 

Scott Young, Training and Development Manager at Wilmar Sugar Australia, said funded training would help solve a problem that had plagued the industry for several years. 

“If it becomes funded, we have the opportunity for an RTO to consider putting it on scope and issuing a national qualification within the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework),” Mr Young said. 

“We can then do traineeships and coordinate accredited training plans for people within the industry.  

“This will help to provide recognition of current skills within a very specialised industry and act as an attraction and retention tool that’s available to many other industries such as recognised apprenticeships and traineeships.” 

Manufacturing Industry Skills Advisers are employed by Ai Group through funding provided by the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT). Industry Skills Advisors (ISAs) engage with employers, small business and industry stakeholders to provide high quality, evidence-based industry advice and intelligence about current and emerging industry direction, regional skills needs and training solutions, jobs growth and employment opportunities.

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a former journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.