New gap year program entices young Aussies to the regions

An uncertain job market and the inability to travel overseas has led to a decline in high school graduates participating in a “gap year.” But there’s plenty of opportunity for growth and experiences right here in our own backyard.

The Australian Government has partnered with the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) to develop AgCAREERSTART – a gap year program which matches young Australians with an on-farm job in regional Australia while addressing barriers and attitudes to work in Australian agriculture.

AgCAREERSTART applicant Romy Ainslee is a young Australian who graduated in 2021 from Hawkesbury High school in Lower Portland, NSW, an hour and half from Sydney. Romy is excited for the opportunities AgCAREERSTART will give her.

“I’ve been stuck in the same place my whole life and I’m keen to get out there and try something different,” Romy said.

“I originally started an agriculture course in high school. However, the program ended up not running as not enough people signed up to do it. I’ve had an interest in agriculture ever since.

“With AgCAREERSTART I don’t mind what type of agriculture I end up doing or where I get placed, as long as I get the opportunity to learn some new skills,” Romy said.

NFF Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar said a gap year with AgCAREERSTART will give young people the opportunity to explore some of Australia’s most beautiful regions while learning new skills.  

“Young people are finishing school in a world of uncertainty. They still need that well-earned break from study, and they want to gain independence, even more so after almost two years of online lessons and being stuck at home,” Tony said.

“AgCAREERSTART participants will be matched with an on-farm job, given training and development, and granted access to industry events and experiences with their AgCAREERSTART cohort. They can learn something new in a hands-on way, while gaining valuable life experience.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to make the most of every opportunity. Travel may always be possible, but a program like this doesn’t come along every day,” Tony said.

Through AgCAREERSTART, participants will be employed under award wages on qualified farms for up to 12 months. Participants will receive safety training, on-farm induction and VET scholarships to upskill on the job. Participants will also be able to access government funded relocation assistance. 

The first on-farm placements for AgCAREERSTART will commence in March 2022.

Applications for both farmer hosts and participants are now open. For more information and to register your interest visit www.agcareerstart.com.au/home


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