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Collaboration between TAFE NSW and the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeding Association​ is helping alleviate a shortage of entry-level workers in the Upper Hunter’s horse-breeding industry.
The three-week program delivered by TAFE NSW Scone is designed to equip school leavers looking to enter the thoroughbred-breeding industry with key skills, including workplace health and safety, horse behaviour, grooming and handling techniques. The program also provides valuable industry exposure, with local employers offering work placements for all participants. 
The first students to complete the program graduated at the annual Godolphin Stallion Parade on Friday 25 August. From the 13 students who participated, seven have secured employment with local breeders either as trainees, apprentices or entry-level workers. The remaining students are continuing their education with TAFE NSW.
TAFE NSW Managing Director Jon Black, who attended last week’s graduation in Aberdeen, said the program was a great example of the education innovator working closely with industry to support training and skills needs.
“Through its close industry relationships, TAFE NSW is developing bespoke training programs individually designed to meet the specific needs of employers,” Mr Black said.
“By doing so, TAFE NSW is contributing to important local industries like the Hunter’s equine and breeding sector as well as the regional economies they support.
“The EquiStart program is linking school leavers with jobs and offering a pathway to further training in equine, animal or vet nursing studies.”
The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s President, Dr Cameron Collins, said partnering with TAFE NSW had allowed it to design a program that would provide local employers with a pool of work-ready candidates equipped with relevant industry insights and skills.
“Our people are the backbone of our industry and critical to its success,” Dr Collins said.  “By developing industry-led training programs in collaboration with TAFE NSW, we are able to offer young people the best start to a rewarding career in thoroughbred breeding.
“The program benefits students and employers. It gives young people the opportunity to learn about the industry and gain the skills and confidence to seek employment, whilst employers are getting access to candidates who are industry-ready,” he said.
The next EquiStart Work Ready program will commence on 20 November and applications are now open. To find out more about TAFE NSW courses, call 131 601.