People investment adds strength to industry

By Catherine Norwood

Leadership, innovation and industry professionalism are key themes for the continuation of the FRDC’s people development program.

Following the success of the program’s first five years, a two-year extension until 2015 has been approved, with more than $500,000 of funding for specific initiatives including professional development awards, partnerships and commissioned training programs.

The FRDC’s people development program manager Jo-Anne Ruscoe says rather than operating as a separate ‘silo’ program, investment will also be integrated into the FRDC’s other program areas: environment; industry and communities; and extension and adoption.

The FRDC’s people development program advisory committee will also be disbanded in favour of seeking broader advice, she says.

“The committee has successfully raised the profile of the program and provided the FRDC with the direction to invest in projects that have made a real difference to individuals and associations.

However, we now want to integrate people development within the FRDC’s other planning structures, to ensure that human capability is being built to deliver on industry priorities. We still need a dedicated program, to ensure it has the national focus needed.

“People development is an ‘enabling’ program – it allows all the other programs to work more effectively. At a Fisheries Research Advisory Board level, people development is often a lower priority than other issues when resources are allocated, although we constantly hear that it is a high priority for industry.”

The FRDC aims to spend 10 per cent of its research budget on programs that will build the skills and capacity of people in the industry.

People development initiatives will target the specific research, development and extension priorities identified in the FRDC’s Research, Development and Extension Plan 2010–15. The management of some People Development Awards will be also transferred to appropriate industry groups such as the FRDC’s Indigenous Reference Group, which will take over the Indigenous Development Scholarships.

Raising the professionalism – and public perceptions of industry professionalism – is a high priority. Initiatives supported will include training in leadership, media engagement and good governance, in order to influence community perceptions.

New initiatives in the people development program include a greater focus on innovation.

The FRDC will prepare a formal innovation strategy and will invest in training to help industry members develop their capacity for innovation and adaptability, including responding to market changes and improving competitiveness. A scholarship program will nurture the next generation of innovators and researchers to help the industry find better ways to do things.

Jo-Anne Ruscoe says there will also be renewed efforts to ensure that the necessary skills are in place to transfer research and development findings to end users. 

Programs for people

The following are among the initiatives the FRDC is planning to fund as part of its continuing people development program.

FRDC Development Awards

These awards include specific programs, scholarships and bursaries for training, workshops, conferences and exhibitions to build skills, expand knowledge and help establish industry networks.

This includes funding for international exchanges and visiting experts. Activities to improve leadership and corporate governance activities are supported.

Specific initiatives sponsored include the National Seafood Industry Leadership Program, Australian Rural Leadership Program, Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarships, Women’s Governance Scholarships, Emerging Leader Governance Scholarships, Indigenous Development Scholarships, and the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community Professional Development Scholarships.

Primary Industries Education Foundation

To support the development of a skilled workforce for the industry, the FRDC is a partner in the Primary Industries Education Foundation, along with other research and development corporations.

The foundation provides national leadership and coordination of initiatives to encourage primary industries education in schools through partnerships between industry, government and educators.

It also aims to provide credible, quality information about primary industry research and development for schools and industry.

Media training

This is a new activity within the people development strategy and builds on the well-received workshops held in 2012. At least one media training course will be held annually.

Environmental responsibility training

Another new initiative will engage a facilitator to build national collaboration in the delivery of environmental responsibility training.

Innovation and entrepreneurial capacity

The FRDC will seek assistance from an ‘innovation adviser’ to better understand what is needed to encourage and support innovation within the industry and within its own structures. It will also seek assistance to advise on the most appropriate training course or program to build innovation and entrepreneurial capacity within seafood enterprises and organisations.

Postgraduate scholarships

Top-up funding will be provided for three postgraduate scholarships annually for research that targets areas of current and emerging industry need.