It does not really matter the size of your operation, one of the most important skills required for all farms is the ability to confidently and safely perform metal fabrication and maintenance.
All farms have metal structures, machinery and equipment which will sooner or later require repairs or modifications and the value of being able to carry out metal fabrication and repair can't be underestimated.
Delivery of all services in regional and remote rural areas has declined in recent years and delivery of skills training has been affected by this trend.
The recent drought also saw cutbacks for many businesses including, training organisations like Tocal College, and people were being asked to drive further for basic skills courses.
Tocal responded to this need by the development and delivery of a suite of skills courses on farm through the AgSkilled Program.
With declining welding course opportunities regionally, Tocal developed the Farm Workshop and Welding Skills course so that it could be taken to any farm with a workshop.
This two-day course covers such things as workshop safety, power tools selection and use, welding safety, welding preparation and processes, manual metal arc welding (stick), gas metal arc welding (mig), oxy cutting and plasma cutting.
Course participants identified fabrication projects which are relevant to their needs which became the focus of the training once the basic skills are learned.
Previous projects have included construction of gates, toolbox trolleys, fire pits, fuel trailer platforms, fabrication of bullbars, work benches and the cutting of signs and shed components.
Plasma cutting is a key component of the course as it is now widely used in the agricultural industry due to the ever decreasing price of machines and consumables.
After delivering several of these courses on-farm right across NSW, Tocal was asked to run a few courses just for ladies - strictly no husbands/partners allowed.
The proposal was to deliver two courses back-to-back at Coonamble as a pilot program to test interest and feasibility.
The dates were set, the shed cleaned out and Tocal turned up with a trailer full of workshop tools to deliver the Farm Workshop and Welding Skills course to some very excited ladies.
Most had very limited exposure to workshop skills, however, all were very keen to learn and understandably full of questions.
One of the ladies, Molly Mackay, had graduated university the year before and came home to Coonamble in the middle of the worst ongoing drought on record.
After attending the FWAWS ladies course at Coonamble, Molly had an idea for a business to operate on-farm, unaffected by environmental conditions.
The result is a business called Molly Mackay Metalworking with a website where you can order customised metal works or choose from hundreds of shapes already on file such as guinea fowl for the garden, property entrance signs, sculptures, hat racks and plenty more.