Austral launches fishing industry training Academy       

Austral Fisheries has taken exciting steps towards broadening young Australians’ understanding of the commercial fishing industry with the launch of its Austral Academy.

The Austral Academy (the Academy) connects young Australians with the many exciting opportunities, pathways, and professional careers available in the seafood industry. It achieves this through on-site school visits and careers expos throughout Australia, in addition to engaging Austral’s experienced team of General Managers and Operations leaders who provide mentoring, support, and on-the-job training to its Academy members.

In 2022, the Academy delivered presentations to schools in Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia. Ashley To, Austral Fisheries HR Officer, said the Academy was launched quietly in the middle of last year as a pilot, but has quickly gained momentum.

“It’s been quite a rush to see the Academy go from launch to a full program of events in its first six months. The fishing industry is historically very underrepresented in careers conversations throughout Australian schools, so we launched with the view that if we could help just one young Australian understand the many opportunities our industry has to offer, then we’ve made an impact,” said Ash.

In 2022, the Academy ultimately visited 10 schools and participated in three careers expos across three States, reaching over 600 students in the process.

“We began by focusing on senior high school students who are unsure about what careers are available to them and are pursuing Vocational Education and Training pathways. The Academy demonstrates to students that they can turn their hobby of recreational fishing into a professional career or apply their mechanical skills to a vessel rather than as car mechanic or FIFO diesel mechanic,” Lesley Leyland, Austral’s Chief Operating Officer, said.

The Academy’s mission is to build a sustainable future for the fishing industry, by supporting and equipping the youth of today with the skills to be leaders tomorrow.  Austral isn’t planning to sugar coat it, however, with a commitment to sharing what being in the commercial fishing industry really involves; from its long days, rough weather, and time away at sea, to the importance of sustainability, safety, and looking out for your crew.

“There’s been a lot of interest in this type of hands-on learning, especially with our Academy students being provided sea-going opportunities once we’ve supported them to complete the relevant training and certificates, and opportunities for workplace learning and mentoring to complete additional certificates in their final year of high school. These are simple, practical ways for young students to learn more about commercial fishing and develop a connection to the industry, as they get a head start on their chosen career pathway,” Lesley said.

The Academy is supported by senior Austral staff across a wide range of disciplines, including marketing, logistics, sales, environment and policy, operations, human resources, safety, finance and quality, Lesley explained.

“I think one of the big surprises for students is Austral’s commitment to sustainability and the environment. We have designed world-class programs to address challenges with bycatch and plastics, as well as industry-leading fishing practices, however most students aren’t aware of these things, including our carbon neutral status and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifications. They’ve been amazed by our newest vessel, the Cape Arkona, which has a zero-carbon footprint.

These initiatives are addressing really important issues for those starting out in the industry and the next generation,” Lesley said.

At the close of 2022, the Academy had seen its first student graduate having completed a range of qualifications including Shipboard Safety Skill Set, First Aid, and Coxswain Grade 2 ticket, as well as a Certificate 2 in Aquaculture.

Find out more at: Austral Academy | Austral Fisheries

Check out what Austral got up to in 2022 at: Highlights from the Austral Academy’s first year! | Austral Fisheries