Pork Industry Training WA (Pitwa) last week introduced 20 Western Australian pork producers and piggery workers to the Pork Industry Skills Passport, which details and endorses a person's workplace skills and competencies and provides an employer with verification.
The 12-month training scheme began last July. According to Pitwa training officer, Frances Gartrell, all pork producers should be aware of the new staff competency requirements, effective from March 2011, in the Model Code of Practice being regulated in each state.
“This means producers should start preparing now to ensure they and their staff will meet those competency requirements,” Gartrell said.
The code requires that pigs must be cared for by personnel skilled in pig husbandry and competent to maintain the health and welfare of the animals in accordance with the standards listed in the code, or are under the direct supervision of such personnel.
The pork industry Stockperson Skill Set covers the minimum skills required by a stockperson 'responsible for the day-to-day needs of pigs' or of a person 'under the direct supervision of such personnel.'
The Stockperson Skill Set, as defined by industry, registered training organisations and Australian Pork Limited, comprises these units of competence:
• Comply with industry animal welfare requirements.
• Move and handle pigs.
• Care for health and welfare of pigs.
• Implement animal health control programmes.
• Administer medication to animals.
• Contribute to OHS processes.
• Observe enterprise quality assurance procedures.
Gartrell reminded seminar participants that by March 2011 anyone responsible for the care of pigs must be able to demonstrate their competency or must be supervised by a person who can demonstrate their competency as a person skilled in pig husbandry and competent to maintain the health and welfare of pigs in accordance with the code.
“Although most pork producers and stockpeople are already capable of caring for their pigs, certification of this competency is an important way of proving that animal welfare standards are being met on farm,” she said.
In November 2009, the Australian Government announced a $25 million initiative to increase the skill base of existing workers. The Enterprise Based Productivity Places Program, which starts this year, is managed by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations through Industry Skills Councils (ISCs). Funding of up to 90% of the cost of training is available to participating businesses.
Gartrell described this as an excellent opportunity for pork producers to have their existing staff trained with little financial burden to their businesses.