The thoroughbred industry is one group that is helping to get young people through the jobs hoop with innovative pathways to a career.
The Thoroughbred Breeders Australia's (TBA) has recently opened applications for its successful Fast Track program, now in its fifth year.
"The program has proved its success with 90 per cent of graduates still working in the industry, so it's exciting to start the process of finding our next recruits," said TBA chief executive, Tom Reilly.
Successful applicants commence a full-time traineeship with a stud farm while studying for a Certificate III in Horse Breeding - a nationally recognised formal qualification. They are paid a full time wage, even while studying, the TBA said.
It said to complement the on-the-job learning, students attend two intensive learning blocks in Scone, where they receive a mix of practical training and classroom theory, as well as take part in a variety of field trips and personal development workshops.
Mick Malone, Stud Master at Kitchwin Hills, Scone, NSW, says he became involved in the thoroughbred industry when he was 15, and now runs a leading stud through "hard work and opportunities".
"There are opportunities in racing and breeding that young people don't even see," Mick Malone said. "They think, I might go and become a carpenter or work in the mines or study business, they don't think about doing this, about working on a farm, but this game is growing every year and there's a lot of opportunity in it if you're prepared to have a crack.
"The interview process that Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has put together really explains the day-to-day job of what happens on farm.
"We've had a terrific run with our Fast Track trainees so far, it's been phenomenal.
"They come here knowing what they're in for so when they get here they can concentrate on growing and learning. They know it's going to be hard and they rip in and that makes a big difference.
"A lot of people get the biggest shock when they come on farm. They don't realise that we start early and that it's hot all day, that there's flies , that there's pressure like you've never felt before and that you work late. When people come to the farm with Fast Track, they have a really good understanding of what the job will be like. They have a good attitude because they know what to expect. That Fast Track interview process that Thoroughbred Breeders Australia puts them through does a really, really good job at explaining what happens day to day on a farm."
And there's no holding back helping trainees at the stud.
"We have signs everywhere that say, there's no such thing as a silly question, just ask."
Former Kitchwin trainee, Joel Kelly, had never touched a horse before he started the Fast Track traineeship. Now he works for Sydney trainer Gerald Ryan.
One of the first trainees, Alyssa Pickels, won the Nolan Scholarship to study breeding at the Irish National Stud. Alyssa Pickels grew up with horses in Middlemount, Central Queensland but not racehorses. After finding out that the nursing degree she'd enrolled in wasn't for her, Pickels worked with a racehorse trainer in Rockhampton for six months before moving to New South Wales to complete Fast Track in 2018.
Fast Track is open to anyone in Australia who is 18 years and over. Prior experience with thoroughbreds isn't necessary, although preferred.
Trainees have enjoyed placements on farms in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland and with planning underway for the biggest intake yet, TBA are calling for farms from all states to get in contact if they are interested in taking on a student.
Rachel Ku has a Bachelor's degree and is a trainee at Kitchwin Hills at Waverly, near Scone.
Mick Malone said: "Our night watch guy, who's excellent, hurt his back the 5th of August and just couldn't work. I stayed here every night and foaled every mare down and Rachel didn't miss one foaling.
"She slept in a swag in the office and when she'd hear the two-way saying one was foaling, she would come out and then she'd be back at work the next morning even if you told her to take the day off. She threw herself at it and just wanted the job. She's bright and keen and will have a future in the industry."
Head to tbaus.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information. It is possible this year's intake has closed but it still may be worth trying.
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