Growing a More Sustainable Agricultural Workforce with SuniTAFE’s New Protected Horticulture Course

13 Mar 2024

 Growing a More Sustainable Agricultural Workforce with SuniTAFE’s New Protected Horticulture Course
SuniTAFE has become the only Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to currently offer Certificate II in Protected Horticulture (AHC21819) in Victoria thanks to funding provided by the Victorian Government.

SuniTAFE secured $1.9 million from the Agriculture TAFE and Training Fund in June last year to develop and launch the course here in Mildura.  

Protected horticulture involves the production of crops in controlled environments to ensure the best possible output.

This allows for the consistent and high-quality production of food crops all year round to meet consumer demands in a sustainable manner, reducing fertiliser run off and using less water and pesticides.

Across Australia, protected cropping is used to produce a high volume of tomatoes, cucumbers, berries, and many other fruits and vegetables.

SuniTAFE is committed to inspiring growth and belief through learning and the introduction of this course aims to do just that.

“The funding from Agriculture Victoria of SuniTAFE's educational initiatives ensures that the workforce entering the protected cropping sector is not only knowledgeable but also highly skilled, contributing significantly to the industry's growth and innovation,” Senior Manager – Education Delivery and Project Lead Katrina Watt said.

“SuniTAFE's pivotal role in catering to the training needs in our community is underscored by this responsiveness and commitment to improvement.

“Protected cropping stands as a transformative solution for the Sunraysia region. As one of Australia's burgeoning food sectors, the course addresses the unique skill set demanded by employment in this rapidly evolving industry.

“The acquisition of state-of-the-art protected cropping equipment positions the SuniTAFE Smart Farm campus as the indisputable choice for delivering the Certificate II in Protected Horticulture.”

SuniTAFE Chief Executive Officer Brett Millington anticipates that the impact of delivering this course in line with local needs will be long lasting.

“By aligning seamlessly with industry demands, SuniTAFE ensures that learners receive not only theoretical knowledge but also practical, hands-on experience with the latest equipment, cultivating a generation of professionals ready to make meaningful contributions to the field,” Mr Millington said. 

The course will include 16 units, with electives relating to medicinal cannabis, fruit and vegetable crops, and nursery operations.

The first intake of the program is in April, and will be open to members of industry who will undertake workplace-based learning.

This will give SuniTAFE the unique opportunity to upskill the current workforce locally, before opening up enrolment more broadly later in the year.

More information about the course can be found here.