POST FORUM COMMUNIQUE 30 April 2021
Australian Thoroughbred Workforce Development Forum
The Australian Thoroughbred Workforce Development Forum was held at Royal Randwick Racecourse, on the 22nd and 23rd of April 2021 with a focus on Obtaining, Training and Retaining the Thoroughbred workforce and addressing the increasing skills shortage felt across the industry.
With a theme of ‘Together for Racing’, the Forum hosted some 100 racing and breeding stakeholders from across Australia who collaborated to identify ways in which the industry can better Obtain, Train and Retain a workforce now and into the future.
The two days were split into four sessions comprising a mix of Panels, Presenters and Workshops:
▪ Grassroots and Youth Engagement ▪ Retention ▪ Recruitment ▪ Education
Panelists and presenters included individuals from both inside and outside the industry including; Ben Buckley, Geoff Bloom, Vin Cox, Myles Foreman, Andrew Gee MP, Tim Gilbert, Amanda Good, Cecilia O’Gorman, Natasha Hamilton, Lisa Hocking, Lizzie Jelfs, Toby Liston, Ciaron Maher, Lindy Maurice, John Messara, Greg Nichols, Katie Page, Brett Parbery, Stuart Rich, Tom Riley, Chris Waller and Steven Wright.
John Messara AM (Chairman Arrowfield & former Chairman Racing Australia & Racing NSW) opened the forum with a call to arms, stating that the current state of the workforce is the only limiting factor to the industry growing even further than where it is today.
Katie Page (Harvey Norman CEO & Founder of Magic Millions) emphasised that retaining the industry’s current domestic workforce has never been more and that Australian industries will all be competing for a domestic workforce over the coming years due to the COVID pandemic.
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Ciaron Maher (Ciaron Maher Racing) and Chris Waller (Chris Waller Racing) provided an insight into operations and referenced the importance of creating an environment where people want to come to work.
Ben Buckley (Former CEO Football Federation Australia, Executive Director of Sport Foxtel) and Steven Wright (Former CEO Big 4 Holiday Parks, Australian Grand Prix, Tourism & Events Queensland) both brought non-Thoroughbred industry experience and insights to the Panels helping to stimulate discussion about how the Thoroughbred Industry is perceived and common challenges across multiple industries to Obtain, Train and Retain a workforce.
During a number of breakout sessions attendees split into smaller working groups to identify and suggest approaches to:
▪ Minimizing barriers to entry.
▪ Improving upskilling and retention of staff.
▪ Providing attractive, accessible and affordable educational and training outcomes.
The key themes to emerge from the Forum requiring further development included:
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The Working Group has now begun work on consolidating the considerable content of ideas and information shared and to commence the process of continuing the great work of the Forum.
Over the coming weeks the Working Group will share the Forum outcomes with the appropriate industry bodies with the objective of providing a further update on progress and future collaboration by mid-2021.
The Working Group would like to thank participants and panelists for their time and contributions over the two days and commitment to working in a spirit of goodwill together for racing.
This work will also be shared with Together for Racing International (TFRI), and Australia will continue to collaborate with TFRI on industry education, workforce and community engagement needs.