THINK skills shortage and images of plumbers and carpenters come to mind.
But there’s a shortage in skilled agricultural workers that Tocal College’s new principal Darren Bayley aims to address.
“There’s a skills shortage right across agriculture and as a rule it hasn’t been promoted well in schools,” he said.
“We really need to spark their interest and show them it’s not just about working on a farm.
“A lot of those people won’t necessarily come from a rural background either. I think we’ll see growing numbers come from the suburbs.”
Mr Bayley grew up on a bush block past Campbelltown and studied at Hawkesbury Agricultural College.
His plan wasn’t to become a farmer but an agronomy consultant so he pursued further study at Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga.
He moved to the Hunter in 1998 and lived in Newcastle while his wife studied at the University of Newcastle.
It was then he started at Tocal under a short contract and later moved to Woodville to take up full-time work.
In 2009 he was promoted to manager of adult education.
“I originally planned to be an agronomist, but I really liked working with people,” he said.
When Dr Archer resigned, Mr Bayley was promoted to acting principal. The appointment became permanent on Wednesday afternoon.
“Cameron did a mountain of work over the years,” Mr Bayley said. “Under his tenure he has grown the capacity of the college and its programs as well as physical infrastructure.
“I hope to build on his achievements and expand our reach and impact across NSW.”