Graduates are fit for work

Bare Essentials director and Workfit Essentials organiser Janne Dipple with program graduates Gary Blinco, Zoe Cadogan, Dylan Woodward, Erja Katriina Sihvola, Corey McCoombes, Scott Johansen, Lupa Lacaze and Alexandra Knight. Graduates absent/not pictured: Simon McDowell, Elizabeth Audet, Craig Downs, Nickla Cimarcus. Pictures: JACOB HAYDEN

A cohort of new agricultural experts were released into the job market on Friday, 7 June at Workfit Essentials graduation ceremony in Morton Vale.

Bare Essentials farming company co-director Janne Dipple began Workfit Essentials, a first of its kind project, earlier this year.

“It’s been a really interesting program because what we’ve done is tried to blend together real paid work experience on a commercial farm as well as formal vocational education and overcoming personal barriers and employability skills,” Mrs Dipple said.

“My husband and I both own the Bare Essentials farming company, it’s a leafy green vegetable and herb farm.

“I do have a background in beef, wheat and sheep as well, so I understand that broader agriculture.

“My qualifications are in adult education and a lot of my experience has been around putting together programs for particular cohorts.”

Mrs Dipple combined her two loves to provide an opportunity for people of diverse backgrounds to work on farm while learning valuable industry skills and insights.

“The group of people we have in this cohort is really diverse, we have people in their early-20s right through to their mid-50s,” Mrs Dipple said.

“In the beginning of this program these people were interested in outdoor work or agriculture or horticulture to some degree but they just didn’t know what.

“Throughout the program we’ve refined what their dream jobs are, so we’ve got some people leaving the program with interests in animal care, forestry, or particular kinds of horticulture.”

Corey McCoombes of Forest Hill was one of the graduating students.

“Before this program I was doing a whole heap of nothing, I really was,” he said.

“I was sitting around, feeling sorry for myself and had the whole ‘why bother’ attitude.

“This really got me into gear and now I feel like accomplishing stuff.”

Workfit Essentials opened a lot of doors for Mr McCoombes, and opened him to the world.

“So far I’ve achieved qualifications in machinery classes, so UTVs, ATVs, and statements of attainments in horticulture and agriculture,” he said.

“Jan’s even talking me into doing my chemical certifications and possibly even land conservation to be a park ranger.

“This has turned everything around for me and got me feeling like doing stuff again.

“I know it sounds real basic, but to me being productive is a really big thing.”

Mr McCoombes encouraged more locals to consider the course.

“I would recommend this to anyone who’s in need of any form of direction at all, this is the thing to do,” he said.

“Even if horticulture isn’t the career they want to go to, this is still one of the best stepping stones you could possibly take.”

A new cohort is due to begin the 10-week program on 2 July.

“I’ll be out looking for new people,” Mrs Dipple said.

“If people are interested in applying for the second cohort they should go straight to our website – and look for the Workfit Essentials page and fill out the webform.”