Management education, not just tax cuts, needed to create jobs and growth

Company tax cuts are a key component of Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison’s plan to drive growth in jobs and wages, spurring on the Australian economy.

There’s no question that tax cuts and lower energy prices will enable companies to keep more of the money they make. But it’s not more money per se, but what they do with that money that will enable them to grow.

Should they spend money on hiring more people, developing new products, do more marketing, change the packaging, or expand the factory to manufacture more product for export?

These are the kinds of decisions all CEOs of medium-sized companies must make. But many CEOs are uncertain about what to do to grow and are fearful of making wrong decisions. No CEO wants to make a decision that sends the company into decline, so there’s a tendency to “circle the wagons” and try to protect what they have or make incremental moves from which they can quickly retreat if things go wrong.

In these situations, lack of money is less of a gating factor than lack of knowledge. The good news is that when CEOs are taught the basics of growth, understand how to create a growth strategy, and are given tools that enable them to simulate the impact of a decision, they make decisions quite rapidly and begin to grow – and then they hire people and jobs are created.

Two years ago we launched our first growth program and began working with a group of 10 companies from all over Australia representing ten different industries. They had revenues between A$5 million – A$50 million, 5 – 200 employees, and the CEOs wanted to grow but weren’t sure how. Over the two years since they entered our program, they increased their aggregate revenue by 93%, profit by 100%, and are exporting into 12 new countries.

But, most importantly for policy makers wanting to create jobs – these ten companies have added 146 new jobs. That’s an average of 14.6 jobs, over two years, per company.

What if each of the 220,000 medium enterprises in Australia added half as many jobs over the next two years? That would result in more than one million jobs.

Promoting company growth can be achieved by helping managers figure out:

  • What’s the best growth strategy for this company?
  • What changes are needed in marketing and sales?
  • What changes are needed in the way we lead and manage?
  • Are the right people in the right positions to drive growth?
  • What kinds of people, with what kinds of skills and experiences, are needed for future growth?

Although a tax cut could be the fuel for the growth, company leaders come to our growth program because they need help thinking through which growth strategy makes sense for their business. They want to learn how to improve their leadership, tune their organisation, become more efficient, and rev growth.

Money alone will not create the numbers and kinds of jobs required to boost the economy. CEOs and MDs in our programs tell us that learning what to do, when, why, and in what order has given them the confidence to take the risks required to grow their companies and hire more people.

In short, we need to focus as much attention on the management education of founders, CEOs and MDs of medium-sized companies as we do on providing them with more money. Once they learn how to grow their companies, they will definitely need money to become the engines of growth, and they will certainly hire more people, creating the jobs we all want.

The Conversation

Jana Matthews, ANZ Chair in Business Growth, Director, Centre for Business Growth, University of South Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Aussie wine exporters celebrate ChAFTA’s anniversary

One year ago today, the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) entered into force. From this date, Australian wine exporters could claim preferential tariff reductions through accompanying wine consignments with a ChAFTA Certificate of Origin.

Australian wine exports have had two tariff reductions since the entering of force of ChAFTA. For most wine, the rate has fallen from 14% to the current rate of 8.4% and will drop further to 5.6% on 1 January 2017, giving Australian winemakers a substantial competitive advantage over our European counterparts.

Australian wine exporters have made the most of the preferential tariff rates into China and China is now Australia’s most valuable wine export market. In the last 12 months, exports to mainland China have grown by over 50% per cent to just under $500 million. To put this in context, just a decade ago, Australian wine exports to China were valued at $27 million.

The trade benefits of the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, and the growing Chinese middle class’ increased interest in wine, have meant that more than a third of Australian wine exports priced $10 and more per litre FOB, are now destined for China (valued at almost $200 million and up over 60 per cent).

‘The demand for our premium wines in China shows no sign of abating and the next round of tariff cuts will give us a further advantage over our next biggest rivals in France’ said Tony Battaglene, Chief Executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

He went on to say ‘The Australian Governments’ continued emphasis on pursuing trade opportunities and reducing market access barriers is welcomed by the wine sector and the benefits of this will flow on to rural and regional Australia over the next decade’.

Coke summer campaign now with Snapchat

Coca-Cola South Pacific has today announced that it has developed Snapchat lens for their summer campaign including one to go live on New Year’s Day which will allow users to interact with Coke in a new way.

“There are a number of ‘firsts’ in our summer campaign this year including the exciting launch of the Coca-Cola AU Snapchat channel,” Kate Wilson, Coca-Cola South Pacific IMC Manager (Sparkling) said.

“This platform provides us with the perfect opportunity to bring to life the campaign through an impactful, real-time and relevant connection point that resonates with our audience.

“We hope the campaign inspires young Australians and shows them a fresh and surprising side of our brand. “This year we’ve taken a different approach, challenging our consumers in surprising ways through music and artistic content as well as using social and digital to drive awareness amongst youth.”

The multi-million dollar integrated marketing campaign will feature in out-of-home, mobile and cinema, experiential marketing, PR, social and influencer engagement, as well as point of sale shopper marketing. Digital content will run across catch-up TV, Vevo and YouTube in 15 and 30 second cut-downs through programmatic advertising.

In a new twist to building awareness for Coca-Cola, street art murals will bring the campaign to life across iconic urban sites in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.  Sydney-based street artist Mulga has been working with Coca-Cola over recent months to create the murals and artwork that will feature across social media, online video, digital and OOH – including on the iconic Kings Cross billboard from this week.


Oh Snap – Nestle loses KitKat trademark

Following a long and bitter dispute between Nestle  and Mondelez, the owners of the Cadbury brand, Nestle has now lost its EU trademark for its KitKat bar after an EU court ruled the popular chocolate bar was not proven to be sufficiently of a “distinctive character.”

Nestle filed its application to register the KitKat shape in 2002 – which was originally launched in 1935 by Rowntree.

According to, after the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which promotes and registers EU trademarks, agreed to register the shape in 2006, Cadbury Schweppes – now Mondelez – moved to have the mark declared invalid in 2007.

The EU General Court said last Friday that it was annulling the 2012 EUIPO decision to dismiss Mondelez’s claim, as the office had not yet proved the “distinctive character” of the chocolate bar shape in all EU member countries.

Entries set to pour in for Australia’s best wine

The hunt is on for fine wines across Australia worthy of raising a glass to, with entries for the prestigious Royal Queensland Wine Show (RQWS) opening today.

Chief Judge David Bicknell will lead a team of expert judges for his second year at the helm, as they sniff, swirl and taste their way through the nation’s top drops, at the first capital city wine show of the season.

This means the RQWS judges will be the first to critically review the 2017 vintage in Australia, setting the benchmark for the industry and letting wine lovers know which bottles to look for.

In keeping up with changes in consumer interest, a new dry red wine class called ‘current drinking light dry red’ has been introduced to the competition for 2017.

Bicknell said the new class is for current release dry red wines that are bottled early for current consumption.

“This should be a fun class where we will see modern ‘bar wines’ that have captured the imagination of the wine savvy public,’’ he said.

“Winemaking technique and variety are irrelevant, enjoyment is paramount and we will hopefully see a few natural and low sulphur wines in the mix as well.”

More than 1,800 wines from 243 wineries were entered into this year’s competition, which saw a sparkling take out Grand Champion Wine of Show for the first time in RQWS history and a pinot noir claim the Stodart Trophy, which is usually won by shiraz.

Entries must be in by April 21, 2017, with judging taking place from June 26 and July 7.


New Pink Flamingo drink helps with McGrath Foundation

28 BLACK has released their 28 BLACK Pink Flamingo cocktail.

Featuring their new flavour – Pink Grapefruit Mint energy drink, the taurine-free beverage is designed as a mixer with what the company calls, “the taste of summer.”

Chrish Graebner, Level Beverages Managing Director said, “Our newest flavour to the range is by far my favourite and is a great mixer.”

The flavour is designed to cater for those who love a good tang and is also meant to be mixed with rum.

The company also said that 10 cents from each can of the 28 BLACK Pink Grapefruit sold will be donated to The McGrath Foundation which raises money to place McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities right across Australia and to increase breast awareness in young Australians.

Bounce rolls out its latest chia almond balls

The Chia Almond Natural Energy Ball is gluten free, suitable for vegetarians, contains 23.7 per cent protein per ball, 40 per cent of the required intake of Omega 3 and has no refined sugar, no artificial additives or preservatives.

Bounce Natural Energy Balls are available in eight additional flavours including Almond, Apple Cinnamon, Cacao Mint, Coconut Macadamia, Hazelnut Cacao, Maple Pecan, Peanut, Spirulina Ginseng and Superberry.

Coffee cherry moonshine ready for Xmas from Campos

Melbourne Moonshine Cáscara Moonshine is made from the dehydrated cherries of the coffee plant.

Traditionally discarded, Campos says it has worked with a small coffee farm in Costa Rica to keep and naturally dry the cherries, resulting in a fruity coffee variety that gives a more subtle tea-like taste.

Campos Coffee, the specialty roaster founded out of a small Newtown café, has always been focused on innovation in coffee, and realised the untapped potential of this previously under-utilised part of the coffee tree.

After months of testing to get the flavours right, the end result is a rich liqueur with cherry and raisin flavours, and hints of molasses, reminiscent of Christmas Cake.

Premium cider on the rise across European markets, says Canadean

Premium cider brands in West Europe recorded a compound annual growth rate of almost 8% between 2009 and 2015, far exceeding competing price segment categories which all posted declines, says consumer insight firm Canadean.

According to the company’s latest research, one of the most important trends currently being recorded in the West European cider market is the premiumization trend, which has led to consumers spending more on quality cider at the expense of discount and mainstream brands.

Premium brands, determined as brands which have a price index between 115%-149%, when using the leading mainstream brand as the benchmark, have witnessed positive results from this. However superpremium brands, those priced in the market at a 150% price index and above on the leading brand, have not yet benefited from this trend, with consumers still exhibiting some caution with their spending.






The impressive growth seen in West Europe was driven by strong performances in Spain (3%) and France (15%), as well as huge growth in the Republic of Ireland (107%), helping to offset the 1% decline in the largest market by volume, the United Kingdom.

Growth in Spain, the second largest premium cider market by volume, was a consequence of the increased demand for imported cider and ‘natural’ cider, which is generally associated with premium and superpremium price points. Natural cider in particular benefited from its popularity with young adult consumers, who find the concept of filtered cider with no added sugar to be appealing.

France’s market was largely in line with the rest of the continent, with volumes declining overall and premium offerings the sole growth point. Consumers in France are increasingly switching their cider drinking habits to quality over quantity, driving value growth.

The exceptional gains witnessed in the Republic of Ireland market for premium brands can be partly attributed to the recovering economy that has restored consumer confidence. Ireland was the fastest-growing economy in West Europe in 2015, and in a traditional cider drinking market, this proved fruitful for premium brands. Heineken also introduced its Orchard Thieves brand in 2015. After vigorous taste panel testing with Irish consumers, it has been designed specifically for the Irish palate, and entered the market with a high price point that more than doubled the volumes in the premium price segment.

Canadean states that premium cider will continue its consistent growth pattern in West Europe in 2016 due to rising consumer interest and willingness to purchase higher priced and quality ciders. Brewers quick to jump on this trend, as Heineken has been in the Republic of Ireland, could capitalize on this shift in consumer buying behavior by focusing on development of more unique and premium cider offerings.

Information is based on Canadean’s reports: Spain Cider Market Insights Report 2016; France Cider Market Insights Report 2016; Republic of Ireland Cider Market Insights Report 2016.

Dematic scores Asahi contract

Asahi Beverages, comprising some of Australia and New Zealand’s most successful beverage businesses, including Schweppes Australia, Asahi Premium Beverages, Independent Liquor and The Better Drinks Co., has awarded Dematic a contract to build a high bay warehouse storage facility.

The warehouse in Heathwood, Queensland, will consist of a satellite storage solution containing six aisles of six-deep satellite ColbyRack capable of storing 28,000 pallets.

The automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) will include six new Dematic RapidStore Storage Retrieval Machines (SRMs) with Dematic’s latest “free roaming” Automover satellite carts. The solution will also feature Skate Auto-loading Truck Docks, a pallet conveyor system, stretch wrapper, automatic barcode labelling, and a full case picking area.

“Dematic was selected by Asahi Beverages as their preferred logistics integration partner following an extensive tender process that assessed experience, comprehensiveness of offering, and local capability,” said David Rubie, Dematic’s Manager of Industry Logistics.

“We look forward to working with Asahi Beverages to deliver a supply chain solution that is a core component of their ongoing success.”

“Our new Queensland high bay warehouse is another major step forward in the transformation of our customer centric logistics network,” said Tracey Wagner, General Manager, Logistics and Customer Operations, Asahi Beverages.

“We are pleased to be working with an experienced integrator such as Dematic on this crucial program.”

Animal rights groups cheesed off over dairy production

Vegan Australia and the Animal Justice Party (AJP) have reportedly told federal politicians the best long-term solution to the dairy sector’s farm-gate pricing crisis is to phase-out the industry over a decade according to a North Queenslander report.

The two groups have submitted their views and suggestions into the Senate Economics References Committee’s current examination of the Australian dairy industry. In response, industry leaders have hit back saying the dairy sector employs “world-leading practices” while generating $4.7 billion in farm-gate value that enriches regional Australian communities.

The Senate inquiry was instigated in September in response to the dairy industry farm gate pricing crisis that ignited earlier this year and is scheduled to report its findings by February 24 next year.

Public hearings have already been held in Canberra on October 26 and in Melbourne on November 15 with a range of industry and government agencies giving evidence.

The inquiry’s terms of reference include examining the legality of retrospective elements of milk supply contracts and the behaviour of Murray Goulburn in relation to the late season claw-back of farm-gate returns to producers, revealed in April.

Vegan Australia’s rationale was that it said it was “very aware” agriculture was a fundamental part of society and it wanted to see the “continued prosperity” of farming and farmers but was recommended pursuing that goal could be achieved without the “use and exploitation of animals”. It envisions the long term solution to the dairy crisis is to phase out dairy.

According to the North Queenslander, they are hoping for the day that technology is able to offer what Vegan Australia terms as “superior alternatives” to dairy products.

Vegan Australia said Australian consumers may hold out some loyalty to the dairy industry, but others in countries like Australia’s largest export market China were, “unlikely to show the same loyalty”.

It said Chinese policy would also shift to domestic production using advanced technology as soon as it became more cost efficient than importing Australian milk.

Vegan Australia said government assistance should be given to current dairy farmers that wanted to transition to plant-based agriculture, as part of the 10-year phase-out.

The AJP’s submission accused the dairy industry of inflicting animal cruelty while causing harm to human health and the environment.

“The most responsible course of action for the government to take is to transition away from animal-based milk and dairy, to humane, healthy, and sustainable plant-based milks,” the AJP said.

“Instead of focussing on trying to rescue an unsustainable industry that is harmful to humans and animals, the government should be turning its attention to innovative transition solutions.

“Consumers are increasingly embracing plant-based milks and it is the position of the Animal Justice Party that the government should embrace this trend and promote plant-based milks as healthier, more humane and more sustainable industries.”

In response, the Australian Dairy Farmers said the industry’s quality and safety processes were “among the best in the world” and the nation’s dairy sector – comprising 6128 dairy farmers of which 98 per cent are family-owned businesses – made a “vital contribution to the national economy”.

“With a farm gate value alone of $4.7 billion, dairy enriches regional Australian communities,” it said.

“Dairy farmers have had a tough past season and it is pleasing to note that the outlook for dairy in the future is more positive with a rebalancing of supply and demand fundamentals globally taking place.

“While we are an industry that has been under intense pressure, we are also an industry that has the know-how and resilience to overcome adversity and thrive in the long term.”

In its submission to the Senate inquiry, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said the food and grocery manufacturing sector employed more than 322,900 Australians, paying around $16.1 billion a year in salaries and wages.

The AFGC said the sector’s contribution to the economic and social well-being of Australia “cannot be overstated” and the dairy export industry had “solid” long term prospects.

“In the long term, global demand for dairy products is expected to remain strong with some analysts predicting a 25 per cent increase in consumption by 2025,” the submission said.

“With continued consumption growth in the Asia region, including China, the medium to long term prospects for Australian dairy exports are solid.”

Small manufacturers will get into the zone at foodpro

Australasia’s iconic food manufacturing event, foodpro, will be partnering with Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) in a brand new initiative: The Supply Chain Integrity Zone.

Security in the supply chain is vital to the food manufacturing process with traceability and audit compliance a priority; however smaller manufacturers often find it costly to comply.

The majority of technologies for traceability are often geared to larger manufacturers, which causes obstacles and barriers for smaller players in the industry.

In response to this, foodpro and FIAL have launched the Supply Chain Integrity Zone, a new initiative focusing on solutions available for small manufacturers who produce pre-packaged goods for sale to the consumer.

Companies across the various stages of the supply chain will be represented, allowing visitors to discuss end-to-end solutions with suppliers best suited for their business.

The zone will also include a series of seminars covering the latest technology, capabilities and insights.

“The Supply Chain Integrity Zone is a really important and exciting addition to foodpro” says Peter Petherick, foodpro Event Director.

“Foodpro has supported Australia’s manufacturing needs for 50 years, and it’s important we continue to respond to the industry as it changes. It’s become clear that there are an increasing number of smaller manufacturers whose needs, although similar to the bigger companies, must be met in more specific ways. The new zone serves a purpose for solutions and importantly, for discussion and engagement. With a focus on improving traceability and supporting audit compliance, the benefit to the industry will be incredible.”

The zone will feature companies that offer solutions specifically for smaller manufacturers who produce less than 10,000 units a week with a focus on areas including: materials in, processing integrity, packaging integrity, shipping & receivables and quality management solutions for traceability. FIAL is directly supporting the zone with the objective of increasing industry capability and compliance.

FIAL was established to foster commercially driven collaboration and innovation in the Australian food and agribusiness industry.

They are industry led and take a collective approach to ensure productivity, profitability and resilience in the food and agribusiness sector. Along with the partnership with FIAL, foodpro 2017 will also host wider discussions around innovation and the food industry with the annual AIFST (Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology) Convention.

Over 400 delegates are expected to attend the Convention’s 50th year to hear about topics such as the future nutritional needs, technology driving innovation, regulations related to imports as well as a roundtable discussing financing innovation and growth in the food industry.

For more information see:

Submissions for packaging scholarship now open

The Australian Packaging & Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) has announced that submissions are now open for its ninth annual scholarship program.

The scholarship will enable one packaging technologist, designer or engineer the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Packaging Technology to the value of $9,000.

Diploma in Packaging Technology students are from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, and are typically experienced practitioners or managers in technical, sales/marketing, QA, purchasing, engineering or design.

Completion of the Diploma in Packaging Technology demonstrates a commitment to a career in the packaging industry. Delegates who successfully complete the Diploma are equipping themselves for senior positions within the industry.

Submissions Close 20 January 2017. More information can be found here.

Swinburne and CSIRO cement new partnership

Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, AO has called for universities to act as engines of social change, preparing graduates to be job capable with the capacity to adapt to change.

Dr Finkel (pictured) was speaking at a special event in Swinburne University of Technology’s Factory of the Future to formally launch a new partnership between Swinburne and the CSIRO.

The Swinburne–CSIRO Strategic Research Alliancewas announced in April 2016. It is focused on creating impact in industry, supporting economic growth in Australia and providing new opportunities for students.

Speaking to a gathering of industry leaders, Dr Finkel said the role of universities was not to predict the future, but to train the people who make the future unpredictable.

“Which means that they have to be adaptable. Well trained students adapt to the jobs that are available. They transfer their skills. They capitalise on their core knowledge,” Dr Finkel said.

“We cannot know in detail what the jobs of tomorrow will require. What we offer is something worth having: the capacity to adapt to change – and the appetite to bring it about.

“We compare ourselves to Silicon Valley, but we need to look at the broader innovation landscape – of traditional as well as high-tech industries.

“We are not celebrating where we are innovative, for example the Australian resource sector leads the world in iron ore extraction, and it is not just about profit. They have improved their environmental impact profile and safety profile through innovation.

“Another example is the banking sector. We are part of the cashless economy ahead of many other economies as well as tourism and agriculture.”

Dr Finkel called on universities to increase work integrated learning opportunities for students.

He also spoke of his plans to establish a research infrastructure roadmap and support the Australian Research Council to develop research impact measures.

Dr Finkel’s speech was followed by a panel discussion on manufacturing futures, workforce capacity and research collaboration featuring industry leaders:

  • Jeff Connolly – CEO SIEMENS Australia and NZ
  • Mike Edwards – General Manager, Boeing Research & Technology Australia
  • Heidi Krebs – Co-owner & Director of Business Development, Cablex Pty Ltd
  • Samantha Read – CEO, (Plastics & Chemicals Industries Association) PACIA

Swinburne-CSIRO partnership

“Swinburne and CSIRO have a long standing relationship that is built on a commitment to excellence in science,” Professor Aleksandar Subic, Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development), said.

“Our shared vision and belief in the transformative power of research and innovation through collaboration, has brought us together; two likeminded organisations, bringing to bear our considerable complementary expertise on problems of national significance.

“This includes in particular areas of advanced manufacturing and materials, digital technologies, design and business innovation.”

“This commitment extends to our students as well. For example, our students engaged within the Swinburne Innovation Precinct will access the research internship program and accelerator program at CSIRO.”

From 2017 all Swinburne PhD students will have  embedded within their research programs a foundation in entrepreneurship and innovation skills combined with real-world industry placement experience.

Executive Director of CSIRO’s Future Industries, Dr Anita Hill, said CSIRO and Swinburne share a similar philosophy and collaborative research culture that naturally supports them entering into a Strategic Research Alliance.

“This launch celebrates the connection between CSIRO’s Lab 22 and Swinburne’s Factory of the Future – both of which provide access to industry to help them move into the future of manufacturing and engage with high tech R&D,” Dr Hill said.

Image: AAP

Nestle scores Didier Drogba deal to improve Education

Nestle have announced their intention to build a new state-run primary school for the Didier Drogba Foundation in Drogba's home region of Gagnoa. 

Didier Drogba started the foundation that bears his name to help vulnerable Ivorians in the area of education, and it has now partnered with Nestle to further these goals, which the company supports.

The partnership marks the announcement that KitKat is now the world's first global confectionery brand sourced from 100 per cent sustainable cocoa, supplied under the Nestle Cocoa Plan.

The Plan enables farmers to run profitable farmers and enables the company to source good quality, sustainable cocoa for its products. Crucially, it also improves social conditions in farming communities.

Nick Weatherill, Executive Director of International Cocoa Initiative, an organisation that promotes child protection in cocoa communities, insists that well-built schools do help in the fight against child labor.

“If there’s no school in a community, then there’s no real alternative for kids. Since their parents are hardly going to let them sit at home doing nothing, the likelihood of them working on the farm is therefore higher. So building one is an essential part of the response.”

“If that school offers high quality education, and it’s free, then you rarely find a cocoa farmer who doesn’t want to send his child. That said, bricks and mortar alone isn’t enough.”

Weatherill warns that if farmers can’t afford to hire adult workers to replace their children, then they can be reluctant to send them to school. That’s why it’s also vital to address the problem of rural poverty.

Aquaculture program prepares students for entry into aquaculture industry

IT IS a Monday morning in Cowell, a small rural town on the east coast of South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, and Year 11 student Brad Armstrong jumps aboard the waiting oyster punt to start his day's classes.

While his fellow students are settling in with their books in the classroom, he heads out into Franklin Harbour with local oyster farmer Simon Turner.

And he would not have it any other way.

Brad Armstrong is one of about 120 students who have taken part in the oyster industry in the past 25 years, thanks to the Cowell Area School's aquaculture program. The 170-student school (Reception to Year 12) takes pride in running the only aquaculture program of its kind in Australia.

The program was initiated in 1991 when local oyster growers came to the school with the request for a course that could suitably equip students for entry into the aquaculture industry. The first course was offered in 1992. The linchpin is the school's own oyster farm – a 2.5-hectare lease in Franklin Harbour allocated to the Cowell Area School through the South Australia Department of Fisheries in 1991.

Cowell has also developed a trade-training centre to deliver vocational education and training (VET) for students across the Eyre Peninsula, offering a Certificate I and Certificate II in Aquaculture. In these courses students in Years 10 to 12 can learn to harvest and shuck oysters, set up an oyster farm and follow seaboard safety, as well as more transferable skills such as food-handling practices and work health and safety requirements.

As well as the oyster lease, students can turn their hand to 'aquaponics' with the school's recirculating tanks for finfish such as Barramundi.

However, aquaculture is not just for senior students at Cowell – it is woven through every year level. In Reception, literacy and numeracy is based on sea creatures. By Years 3 and 4, students are learning about fishing and sand-dune erosion. By Years 5 and 6, they are working with oysters. From Years 7 to 10, Cowell students study marine sustainability, fisheries regulations, water sampling and the microbiology of aquaculture. Aquaculture is even part of the school's hospitality and business subjects, with students learning to cook oysters and sell them at school fundraising events.

Cowell Area School aquaculture education manager Bob Combes says the program would not be possible without the support of local oyster farmers. "The program has always been to instill in students the skills required to advance the local industry and create an opportunity for those wanting to work in the region," he says. "Our local community has been invaluable, offering us its business expertise and ensuring that our lease is kept up to date with developing technologies."

The South Australia Department of Education and Child Development assists in funding the school's oyster lease manager, infrastructure and equipment for the program. But it has not all been smooth sailing. Early on, some local oyster farmers were concerned this government support would give the school an unfair advantage in the market, but today there is widespread support and recognition that the school's program is good for the industry's future.

Five local growers sit on the school's aquaculture advisory board to provide advice and guidance, and other growers contribute their knowledge and host work experience students. These work experience placements often lead to jobs.

For example, Brad Armstrong's work experience placement at Turners Oysters when he was in Year 10 eventually led to a casual position during busy periods. He began his Certificate II in Aquaculture this year and spends one day a week with Simon Turner learning about the business, which sells about 160,000 dozen oysters a year to restaurants across Australia.

The school sources oyster spat from Tasmanian companies Geordy River Aquaculture, Cameron of Tasmania Pty Ltd and Shellfish Culture Ltd, which have also provided work experience opportunities for Cowell Area School students.

Industry support

Retired oyster farmers Geoff and Janet Turner have backed the school program since it began. They made the transition from agriculture to aquaculture in 1987 and are among the pioneers of Cowell's oyster industry. Oyster leases now dot the southern end of Franklin Harbour, where tidal currents and food sources are optimal for oysters.

The Turners co-founded BST Oyster Supplies, and developed the adjustable longline system used by oyster farmers around the world. The adjustable height feature has been critical to weather the 'dodge tides' characteristic of the Spencer Gulf. In this tidal pattern, one tide a fortnight is missed. It is a scenario which, if it coincides with a scorching 40°C-plus day, can devastate the farms.

The Turners are only too happy to impart their knowledge of the oyster industry – from farm set-up to disease management to marketing – to Cowell students. An important lesson is the value of environmental sustainability.

"There are 5000 hectares of water in the Cowell harbour, but the oyster industry decided only 112.5 hectares should be used for aquaculture," Geoff Turner explains. "It's one of the local industry's environmental commitments."

Career opportunities

Geoff Turner believes positioning oyster farming as a rewarding, sustainable career choice will encourage the young people of Cowell to stay. Cowell is nearly 500 kilometres from the capital of South Australia, Adelaide, by road. Many young people head to the city for jobs and further study. With iron ore mines right on the doorstep, the lure of the mining industry is also strong.

"It is absolutely critical to have the next generation coming into the industry. Oyster farming offers stability and a lifestyle that the mines can't provide," Geoff Turner says. He takes pride in seeing Cowell students developing skills in managing the oyster farms, embracing new technology in the grading sheds, and gaining business sense and an appreciation for the industry's environmental commitment.

"I see it as absolutely important to keep this course going, and that the education system recognises the value it is providing for industry," he says. "It is developing skills for aquaculture that will drive the state into the future."

Although Cowell Area School boasts a 100 per cent success rate at placing students into local aquaculture jobs, the program has also underpinned careers in other aspects of the industry, such as science. It was the catalyst for former student Laura Inglis, 18, to study a Bachelor of Science, majoring in marine biology, at Flinders University in Adelaide.

"The school's aquaculture program is unique. I don't know of many school students who would get such an opportunity to learn about the oyster industry," Laura Inglis says.

She combined her interest in science and access to the school's oyster lease for her Year 12 research project, which studied diploid and triploid oysters, and work experience at Shellfish Culture Ltd in Tasmania, where Cowell sources oyster spat. Today, she is in her second year of her three-year degree, with her sights firmly set on a career involving the Great Barrier Reef or deep ocean. 

Bright future

Self-sufficiency is on the horizon for the Cowell Area School's oyster program, with plans to sell 'on grows' – oysters aged five months – to make a profit earlier than the current practice of growing oysters out to 15 months.

"In the next two years, we will move to selling 70 per cent of our oysters as on grow and the remainder as bistro or standard size," Bob Combes says. "We hope that this will provide us with a steady income to pay for the enterprise as it continues to develop, so we can contribute to the industry that forms the backbone of our community."

Cowell Area School's innovative aquaculture program and its oyster lease are garnering international interest. The school has hosted school leaders and business executives from Japan who are interested in setting up a similar curriculum and business. Principal Jan Potter took to the global stage to share Cowell's story at the 2014 World Aquaculture Conference in Adelaide, and Cowell Area School staff have also visited the US to see how schools there incorporate aquaculture into their curriculum.


Masters of Food and Packaging Innovation launched

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences has worked with the food and packaging industries to create a new Masters degree to drive innovation in these sectors.

The Master of Food and Packaging Innovation combines food science, packaging and product design with business skills like project management and entrepreneurship.

Food, confectionary and beverage manufacturer Mondelēz International identified this as an area that was underserved in tertiary education, and selected the University to create a Masters-level degree in 2013.

A cross-disciplinary team of University staff worked with industry advisers and research groups to design a degree that filled this gap.

Partners include Mondelēz International, Simplot Australia, Dairy Innovation Australia, the Food Innovation Centre and the Australian Institute of Packaging, which will assist with the delivery of packaging subjects.

The University’s Carlton Connect group will continue to engage industry partners on research and development opportunities across the wider University under the leadership of Professor Frank Dunshea, Chair of Agriculture.

Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, said the degree exemplifies the University’s keen interest in working with industry in teaching and research.

“The Master of Food and Packaging Innovation is exciting because it helps us tackle a number of critical needs – for new answers in global demand for food, for industry ready graduates across every sector, and for closer collaboration between universities and those on the front line of industry.”

Professor Davis pointed to other ongoing projects indicating the University’s continuing commitment to work with the food industry. Examples include the partnership with Mondelēz International on the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hub ‘Unlocking the Food Value Chain,’ and the ARC ‘Dairy Innovation’ Hub, which is undertaking dairy science and engineering research.

“We are confident the new Masters program will promote innovation and bring about even stronger engagement between the tertiary sector and the food and packaging industries.”

Amanda Banfield, Mondelēz International Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, said it is important for large companies to invest in a training and development pipeline to sustain and grow their business.


Drive Your Career Mentoring Program registrations close soon

Registrations for the Drive Your Career Mentoring Program close 8 May for those in the food, beverage, manufacturing and packaging industries.

The new Drive Your Career Mentoring program is designed to support men and women to reach their potential in the food, beverage, manufacturing and packaging industries.

The program is supported by collaborative associations AIP, APPMA, LATMA, PACKAGING COUNCIL OF NZ and SPE, and is an industry program designed for everyone; whether you are starting your career or in need of a kickstart.

The program enables participants to master new skills and techniques over a 12 week period that allows them to create new patterns of behaviour, increased self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities. They will also have access to fortnightly webinars with guest speakers from within our industry.

The Drive Your Career Mentoring program is a newly-improved version of the Ignite Packaging initiative that the industry successfully launched in 2014 and is designed to cater for all stages of career cycle to give a new jumpstart.

According to Maureen Frank, managing director of Emberin, “the Drive Your Career Mentoring Program is all about you – your life, your career and your growth as a person and your development as a leader in all parts of your life, including your family, your community and your organisation. 

“Through our other mentoring programs we have personally witnessed some phenomenal changes in individuals – from astonishing career moves, to life balance plans that work, to winning new customers and clients – in all we have seen participants move their own mindsets – they have been able to shift their thought process around what they believe may be possible for them, as individuals – and then – act on it with great success,”

“The Drive Your Career Mentoring Program will allow you to focus on yourself for the 12 week program – and that is something that we, as, in our busy lives, rarely do,” Frank said.

Every company in the industry is invited to ‘sponsor’ two participants in the Drive Your Career Mentoring program.


AIP launch Mentoring program at AUSPACK

The AIP, in collaboration with Emberin, has launched the new Drive Your Career Mentoring program designed to support men and women to reach their potential in the food, beverage, manufacturing and packaging industries.

The program is supported by collaborative associations APPMA, LATMA, PAC NZ and SPE, is designed for everyone; whether you are starting your career or in need of a kickstart.

The program enables participants to master new skills and techniques over a 12 week period that allows them to create new patterns of behaviour, increased self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities. They will also have access to fortnightly webinars with guest speakers from within our industry.

It is a newly-improved version of the Ignite Packaging initiative that the Institute successfully launched in 2014 and is designed to cater for all stages of career cycle to give a new jumpstart.

According to Maureen Frank, managing director of Emberin, “the AIP Drive Your Career Mentoring Program is all about you – your life, your career and your growth as a person and your development as a leader in all parts of your life, including your family, your community and your organisation.”

“Through our other mentoring programs we have personally witnessed some phenomenal changes in individuals – from astonishing career moves, to life balance plans that work, to winning new customers and clients – in all we have seen participants move their own mindsets – they have been able to shift their thought process around what they believe may be possible for them, as individuals – and then – act on it with great success,”

“The AIP Drive Your Career Mentoring Program will allow you to focus on yourself for the 12 week program – and that is something that we, as, in our busy lives, rarely do.” Frank said.

The 2015 AIP Drive Your Career program was launched at the 2015 National Technical Forums which were held alongside AUSPACK. Expressions of Interest are now open and applications close on Friday the 8th of May.

The AIP invites every company in the industry to ‘sponsor’ two participants in the Drive Your Career Mentoring program. To access an application form email


CPP designation reaches Australia

The Certified Packaging Professional designation will become the leading mark of excellence internationally under a new partnership announced by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) in the U.S. and the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP).

IoPP and AIP will mutually recognise CPP as the gold standard of broad packaging proficiency under a program in which AIP members will join qualifying IoPP members as being eligible for certification.

Approximately 2,000 packaging professionals have earned the CPP designation, a trademark of IoPP, since the program was launched 1972. CPP is a designation some of the leading packaging companies in the world want their influential team members to have because it demonstrates broad competency in all major areas of packaging. CPPs today typically enjoy more senior, decision-making positions in their companies, and research also suggests that holders of CPP often out-earn their non-certified peers.

“Having the AIP as our first international CPP partner is a critical step to internationalising the CPP program and ensuring that we have a singular, unified approach for recognising packaging professionals around the globe,” said Patrick Farrey, executive director of the IoPP.

“We expect that regional packaging organisations in other countries will follow AIP’s lead. This is an important step because CPP helps assure that packaging teams around the world that need to work with each other can do so with the same approach, because they have all attained a high level of proficiency in packaging the same way,” Farrey said.

“The net result is greater efficiency among global packaging teams and as a result, more efficiency use of critical budget dollars and greater opportunities for reduced product time to shelf.” he said.

Ralph Moyle, FAIP, national president, AIP, added that “Being able to offer the CPP credential in Australasia allows packaging professionals in our industry the opportunity to join recognised packaging experts from around the world with the industry’s leading professional designation.”

“Attaining the CPP designation is an excellent investment in your professional development, and the credential defines the packaging professional and allows organisations to seek out and hire the right professional based on verified knowledge, skills and industry contributions,” Moyle said.

“Using the CPP program to assess and evaluate one’s professional competency validates you as internationally proficient as a packaging professional, a cut above your peers.” he said. Under the AIP-IoPP partnership, members in good standing of either AIP or IoPP (at the Premium or Elite member levels) are eligible for the certification program. The program foremost requires that the candidate pass a 150-question online multiple-choice exam. They must also complete other qualifications, such as providing a Resume of Activities which enables them to demonstrate their industry expertise in multiple dimensions, subject to a review panel put together by IoPP and AIP.

For complete details and requirements on the CPP program, email