Off-farm work and how to get it the focus of forums

SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE: Cheryl Wilson and Tamworth Community College executive officer Michelle Simpson. Mrs Wilson is a trainer at the college and will run a career course for farmers in Walcha next week. Photo: Peter Hardin 061119PHB006
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE: Cheryl Wilson and Tamworth Community College executive officer Michelle Simpson. Mrs Wilson is a trainer at the college and will run a career course for farmers in Walcha next week. Photo: Peter Hardin 061119PHB006

A trainer from "both sides of the fence - the paddock fence" will go on tour to give the region's farmers the ideas, strategies and confidence to gain off-farm income.

Cheryl Wilson knows all too well how it feels to be at a crossroads due to the drought, after losing her job in 2018 and finding herself wondering "WTF - What's the Future?"

And that's the title of a course she will run as part of Namoi Unlimited's Find Your Feet expo and training day in Walcha next Tuesday, which will also offer first aid and white card training.

Mrs Wilson is from a farming family near Wallabadah and faced "a challenging time" when she was retrenched from TAFE and diagnosed with a serious illness.

"It forced me to sit down and think long and hard about my future and where I could take my skills," she said.

"Sadly, situations like mine are playing out in many drought-affected towns ... financial insecurity and employment anxiety is a big problem for many people."

Mrs Wilson will talk about skills farmers can take to other jobs, as well as how to find and make the most of opportunities.

As for what those skills are, "the list is endless" and includes communication, the ability to network, mechanical knowledge and business management.

"Most rural workers have a terrific work ethic but, unfortunately, too many undervalue their skills and experience."

Mrs Wilson is now a teacher at Tamworth Community College, which is offering the training with state government drought funding.

Executive officer Michelle Simpson said it was "an opportunity to find out what's available in terms of reskilling, and transferring skills you already have into alternative sources of income."

"Cheryl knows what it's like from both sides of the fence - the paddock fence," she said.

Also part of the expo will be the chance to gain first aid training or a white card; learn about jobs with councils and Roads and Maritime Services; and connect with recruitment firm LabourCo and drought support agencies.

Participants could be eligible for fee exemptions; for more details visit namoiunlimited.nsw.gov.au/projects/skills-training/

What, where and when

The Find your Feet Expo will be held:

  • Monday, November 11, Nundle Bowling Club
  • Tuesday, November 12, Walcha Ex-Services Memorial Club
  • Wednesday, November 13, Gunnedah Services & Bowling Club
  • Thursday, November 14, Roxy Theatre Bingara
  • Friday, November 15, Quirindi RSL Club

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