One-in-three farmers looking to upskill - survey shows
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One-in-three farmers looking to upskill - survey shows

A third of Australian farmers are looking to increase their skills and knowledge through education or training over the coming year, according to a recent survey commissioned by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

The survey found improving on-farm management practices and upskilling in emerging technologies, financial management, business planning and management, marketing and communications and succession were key areas of interest for farmers.

Rabobank Australia national manager Country Banking Todd Charteris said the thirst for knowledge among farmers was very clear among the 1000 farmers from across the country and different agricultural sectors who completed the survey.

Announcing the opening of applications for the 2016 Rabobank Executive Development Program, Mr Charteris said farmers were recognising the need to proactively prepare their business for the future in an increasingly complex and commercial environment.

Tailored for progressive farmers looking to take their businesses to the next level, by developing and enhancing their business management skills, the Executive Development Program was launched by Rabobank in 1999. To date, more than 500 farmers from across Australia and New Zealand have graduated from the program, which remains at the forefront of business management thinking.

An intensive residential program consisting of two modules, the course covers all aspects of business management including strategic goal setting, negotiation, risk management and leadership.

Course participants have the opportunity to not only learn from industry and business experts, but from other like-minded farmers through hands-on discussions, work groups and case studies.

Ash Teakle, graduate of the 2015 Executive Development Program said he applied for the program as he was wanting to upskill and had been “looking at various courses online, including university degrees”.

“In recent years, our farming enterprise has expanded quite rapidly from a small family business to a medium-size operation, and I was a bit concerned that I didn’t have the skill-set to run our more complex business,” he said.

“When I saw the brochure for the Rabobank program, I knew straight away it was what I was looking for, as I couldn’t have long periods away from the business or my young family, and I felt that my motivation would wane if I enrolled in an online course.”

Mr Teakle, who is a partner in his family’s broadacre cropping and livestock business north of Cunderdin in Western Australia, said since graduating from the program he now has much more confidence in his decision-making capabilities, and looks at his business more strategically.

“Looking at it now, I probably had some of the skills already but the course brought them to the fore,” he said. “I am now much more focussed on goal setting, and know the financial ratios we need to achieve to reach our goals.

“We are currently working on positioning ourselves for the next growth phase of our business which includes the purchase of more land, and this has formed the basis of my management project.”

The Executive Development Program management project, completed between the two modules of the program, is designed to give participants the framework to put into practice and develop the skills, tools and ideas from the program, with the project essentially forming the strategic plan for their business.

Mr Teakle said the opportunity for his wife Tammy to attend some of the Executive Development Program through the Partner Program was also beneficial, as a means to become engaged with the course content and also meet the network of farmers from across Australia and New Zealand.

“I have made some really good contacts as a result of doing the course, and this is an opportunity I wouldn’t have got elsewhere,” he said.

Applications for the Rabobank 2016 Executive Development Program are open until May 27, with applicants accepted from across a range of commodities and geographical locations in Australia and New Zealand. Held in Sydney, the first module runs from August 14 to 19, with the second module taking place in July of next year.

Producers interested in an application form or any further information on the Rabobank Business Management Programs should visit Business Management Programs or contact Rabobank Business Programs manager Nerida Sweetapple on 02 6363 5910 or email

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 115 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 8.8 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is one of Australasia’s leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region’s food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 94 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Media contacts:

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: 02 8115 2744 or 0439 603 525 

Skye Ward
Media Relations Manager
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: 02 4855 1111 or 0418 216 103