29 Feb

Funding grants for women in agriculture

Women & Leadership Australia is administering a national initiative to support the development of female leaders across the agriculture sector.

From February 10, 2016 the initiative will provide women in the agriculture sector with grants for leadership development. More specifically, grant applications are open to women employed in the agriculture sector at two levels. Please click on the preferred program link for details. The deadline for expressing your interest for this funding in your sector ends on March 31st.

Senior Management and Executive level Women Leaders can apply for $12,000 Individual Grants to undertake the Advanced Leadership Program.

Women Managers can apply for $5,000 Individual Grants to undertake the Accelerated Leadership Performance Program.

Click here for the Expression of Interest form.

Should you wish to discuss the initiative in more detail please contact Ian Johnson at the office of the National Industry Scholarship Program, Australian School of Applied Management on 03 9270 9016 or via ijohnson@wla.edu.au

Source: AgEx Alliance, http://agex.org.au/funding-grants-for-women-in-agriculture/

29 Feb

Redefining business success in a changing world

CEOs know the landscape has changed dramatically and continues to do so. That’s simply part and parcel of doing business today. They understand they have to be aware of, and effectively manage, a much broader group of stakeholders than their predecessors ever had to contend with.

Mobile connectivity and social media have not only given people more say when it comes to what and how they like to receive goods or services or how they like to work, but it’s also given them access to much more information, including that of organisations, their work practices and partners, and the impact they have more broadly. Technology is unequivocally the number one tool CEOs are using to assess and deliver on these changing customer and stakeholder needs.

Being responsive is key to CEOs building trust – which they know is something that will be fundamental to their longterm viability. Communicating on strategy and purpose is something that CEOs in Australia acknowledge they could do better, and would help trust efforts. But responding to expectations comes at a cost. There’s a conflict between stakeholders’ interests versus financial performance expectations from investors that CEOs have to balance.


Managing Stakeholders Infographic


Managing Stakeholders Infographic p2 Managing Stakeholders Infographic p3

Source: PWC Global CEO Survey Insight Summary, https://pwc.docalytics.com/v/pwc-global-ceo-survey-insight-summary-managing-stakeholders

29 Feb

The high tech study using satellites to map Australia’s mango, macadamia and avocado crops

In a small lecture theatre at the CQUniversity campus in Bundaberg, Dr James Underwood is giving a presentation about his work capturing images of mango, macadamia and avocado trees.

The researcher from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics mounted a robot called Shrimp with a range of sensors that capture 2D and 3D images, photographs, thermal readings and hyperspectral scans and sent it up the orchard rows at Simpson Farms, near Bundaberg.

The images it produced are both familiar-looking and somewhat alien; from colour photos that look like they were taken at night, to wavy streams of colour that are loosely tree-shaped and bright orange 3D projections of trees made using reflective light, or LiDAR, to show every branch.

During the presentation, Dr Underwood shows a thermal image of an avocado tree – a ghostly light-grey trunk stands out against a slightly darker background.

The audience of researchers, farmers, extension officers and agronomists take note of the dark patch at the bottom of the trunk, showing an area cooler than the rest of the tree.

“Can we use that to identify disease?” comes a question from the audience.

Dr Underwood does not know – he is the robotics guy – perhaps an agronomist has a better idea?

Suncoast Gold Macadamia extension officer Chris Searle chimes in, suggesting some conditions would make the trunk appear hotter.

There are questions over whether the difference between natural variations in temperature (such as water availability) and pathogens could be determined?

While the conversation bounces around the room, Dr Underwood takes notes. He wants to know what images the growers are most interested in to target the next phase of his research.

He is working as part of the National Tree Project, a $7 million multi-group study funded by the Federal Government’s Rural Research and Development for Profit program and Horticulture Innovation Australia.

The idea is to give growers an unprecedented understanding of the variability of productivity and quality within their orchards, helping them make better decisions about inputs like irrigation and fertiliser.

Every crop over two hectares will be photographed from the sky, amounting to about 90,000 hectares nationwide.

The photos will then be analysed and converted into data on tree vigour, yield, pest detection and surveillance, crop forecasts and productivity.

The project is being led by University of New England associate professor Andrew Robson, an agricultural remote sensing scientist.

Professor Robson said in the past two years satellites were used to measure average fruit weight in avocados, paving the way for the larger national mapping project.

“In terms of agriculture this sort of work’s been around for nearly 30 years now, so there’s been a lot of crop mapping for high growth areas and low growth areas, which allow agronomists or growers to work out what’s driving poor productivity or high productivity,” Professor Robson said.

“It’s definitely increased with the applications with technology.

“Obviously the advent of drones everywhere, we have really high resolution satellites available commercially at a cost effective price so these applications are not just high growth and low growth, it’s actually looking at specific diseases and specific parameters of yield or quality.”

Spotting pathogens from space
Dr Robson has done similar work with banana crops, where researchers were trying to identify critical conditions like Panama Tropical Race 4 using satellite imagery.

The devastating disease found in Tully, in North Queensland, in 2015 has the potential to wipe out Australia’s Cavendish crop, but so far has been contained to one farm.

Biosecurity Queensland has expanded surveillance for the pathogen to nearby Lakeland, but the work carries its own risks, with the potential for well-meaning officers accidentally spreading the disease through their surveillance activities.

Panama disease first presents with a yellowing of the leaves that later dry and burn out, leaving researchers to wonder if it could be spotted not just from the ground, but from above.

But there is a lot of work to be done before that question can be answered, as yellowing leaves can also be a sign of nutritional problems or water stress, and bananas can be difficult to spot using satellites as they tend to be below rainforest canopies.

Dr Robson said despite the challenges, the technique had the potential to offer a new layer of protection for horticulture against biosecurity threats.

“In the event of an outbreak of diseases, or post disaster, they can access these (maps) and know where all the crops are and how to manage things like outbreaks,” he said.

“Things like yield forecasting, identifying disease spread, poor and high nutrition across crops, quality, fruit weight, all that helps with management, harvest segregation, disease control, nutrition management, so things like that.”

The method could also be used to map disasters like floods, fires and cyclones and speed up applications for recovery assistance.

It was not lost on Dr Robson that his group was meeting in Bundaberg, the scene of utter devastation from the region’s worst ever floods just three years ago.

“(If) we had information on how many trees and where they were pre-flood and then again afterwards, we could definitely work out what was lost and obviously tie that in to productivity information and estimated value of lost productivity for those growers,” he said.

Innovate or stagnate
The project has generated great interest in academic circles.

Four universities are participating, along with industry groups such as the Australian Macadamia Society, the Australian Mango Industry Association and Avocados Australia.

It has also had input from Bundaberg’s Simpson Farms, where many of the trials have been run, and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and technology consultants AgTrix.

Horticulture Innovation Australia research and development lead Anthony Kachenko said the work represented the growing role of science and innovation in agriculture.

“This is a key example of how industry is looking at innovative blue sky research opportunities to enhance productivity on farm,” Mr Kachenko said.

“This project is expected to deliver tools to enhance farm-level decision using satellite image data, novel on-ground sensors and agricultural robotics.

“The need to look at high-tech opportunities is critical for industry to compete in both the domestic and export arenas.”

He said while it was very high-tech, the collaborative project had been embraced by growers keen to see how technology could improve productivity in fiercely competitive markets.

At the forefront of much of the research is the macadamia industry, which sees 70 per cent of its crop exported.

Chief executive officer of the Australian Macadamia Society Jolyn Burnett said the industry has long had one of the highest research and development levies as a percentage of farm gate value in the country.

“We have to be globally competitive, especially with low labour cost producers like South Africa and Kenya,” Mr Burnett said.

“The industry is highly mechanised and has invested heavily in biological control and advanced orchard management.

“This means we can compete with countries where labour is a tenth the cost of Australia.”

But he said labour rates were rising in developing countries too and they had the potential to catch up technologically, particularly in countries like China and Vietnam.

So the industry needed to reduce costs and lift productivity, and the National Tree Project might help.

Project, protect, reflect.
One of the key issues researchers are trying to overcome is accuracy of crop projections, which have the potential to spook markets if they are wrong.

One researcher said he had four people count the avocados on one tree.

They came back with a variance among them of up to 50 fruit on a tree with about 250 fruit – a huge margin of error when multiplied out across thousands of trees.

Mr Burnett, of the macadamia society, said a more scientific, reliable method of providing crop projections was critical for price stability and market confidence.

“The market hates surprises,” he said.

“Macadamias represent just one per cent of the world trade in tree nuts, so we are very susceptible to fluctuations in supply and subsequently price.

“It is essential that we give the market credible and accurate forecasts, not just for the coming crop, but for years ahead.

“This allows us to anticipate demand and develop new markets to ensure that supply and demand are as closely aligned as possible.”

The macadamia industry is young, with just 40 years of research to inform its production.

Mr Burnett said if the collaborative project with the mango and avocado industry was a success, it would be a major achievement for all three industries.

“We have many challenges in common,” he said.

“Large evergreen dense trees create a number of challenges in terms of maximising yield per hectare, spray coverage, managing tree vigour, canopy management, orchard floor management, etcetera.

“Growers are very good, probably better than researchers, at seeing the synergies from other crops and applying them to their own situation, however they must be able to see the direct relevance for their crop.”

In 2016 the project will move into phase two which will see the footprint maps of each industry refined to provide the most bang for the expensive satellite’s buck.

Researchers will also drill down to orchard level detail, and in some cases map and measure individual trees.

Associate Professor Andrew Robson said the scale of the project would help make using the data affordable for farmers.

“(For) more and more of these intensive growing regions that have a lot going on like sugar cane and horticulture, cross industry investment from the industry groups will mean that those outputs at the end would be a lot cheaper,” he said.

“And definitely as I mentioned before, the technologies are getting cheaper and cheaper.”

The final results are expected in 2018.

Source: Kallee Buchanan, ABC Rural, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-04/mapping-australias-tree-crops/7137014

29 Feb

Cool solution to heat stressed vines

EVAPORATIVE cooling systems are being used in South Australian vineyards as part of a project to protect grapes during heat waves ahead of harvest.

The project is using under-canopy sprinklers in the Riverland and Coonawarra wine regions to cool vineyards at night during heat waves at the height of the Australian summer.

Principal Scientist with the South Australian Research Development Institute Mike McCarthy is leading the project, which is jointly funded by Wine Australia and the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Dr McCarthy said growers across Australia had reported severe impacts on fruit particularly after three or four consecutive days of scorching heat.

He said many growers believed hot nights were as much to blame as hot days for damage such as leaf scorch, reduction in grape quality and lower yields.

“The scientific basis of that is we were hypothesizing whether these hot nights meant the vines couldn’t fully rehydrate and regain their turgor overnight for the next hot day and that’s where it all really started,” Dr McCarthy said.

“At the same time we heard a few comments from some of the cooler regions that it was hot nights that was causing loss in varietal character in some varieties.

“We thought that if we could somehow cool these vineyards down at night perhaps we might see a positive effect in yield and wine quality.

“We’re now seeing heat warnings to the general public, the health authorities are saying people have to be able to cool themselves down at night to tolerate the next hot day so maybe there’s a bit of corollary with how human beings cope with hot weather and hot nights versus grape vines.”

The project started in 2014 with the selection of two test sites in the South Australian Riverland and one in the Coonawarra region.

However, a milder than average December and January a year ago meant the previous harvest was largely unaffected by hot weather before harvest.

Dr McCarthy said a hot summer this year, where Riverland daytime temperatures had reached 45C, had provided excellent conditions to conduct the trial.

The test sites use under canopy micro sprinklers to act as evaporative coolers while in the Coonawarra, frost protection sprinklers, traditionally used in winter, are also used. Canopy temperature and humidity measurements are taken regularly and different times of day.

The Riverland is Australia’s largest wine-producing region and the hottest in South Australia. It is about 250km northeast of the South Australian capital Adelaide on the banks of Australia’s largest river, the Murray. The Coonawarra is about 375km southeast of Adelaide and is a cooler climate region renowned for its high quality cabernet sauvignon.

Dr McCarthy said the sprinklers were “pulsed on and off” in short bursts over a 30-minute period three or four times on hot nights.

“It’s using the same principle as the evaporative cooling system that might be on your house – you’re evaporating water to get that cooling effect,” he said.

“Raising the humidity reduces the evaporative demand for water and we’re also wetting the whole of the vineyard floor so we’re cooling soil temperatures as well at night.”

Dr McCarthy said another factor was the shorter nights in December and January in Australia either side of the summer solstice, meaning vines had less hours of darkness to recover from the fierce daytime heat.

But he said a recent visit to the Riverland sites at the height of the Australian summer revealed the vines were looking healthier than at other vineyards in the area.

“The canopies were happier, there was more green leaf, less leaf scorch and the berries are definitely bigger where we’ve been pulsing the sprinklers on and off at night.

“There does appear to be a positive benefit in terms of yield, whether that translates through into wine we won’t know until the small lot wines are made later on in the year but visually the vineyards look better.”

“We started cycling these sprinklers on right back in October and the reason for that is that we know from wine chemists that a lot of the flavour precursors are actually synthesized between berry set and veraison so that period pre-Christmas is important too.”

According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine, Australia was the world’s seventh largest wine producing nation in 2015. Italy, France and Spain topped the list.

South Australia is consistently responsible for almost 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production.

Harvest in the Riverland sites will begin in the last week of January while the Coonawarra grapes are unlikely to be picked until late March.

Dr McCarthy said it was too early to say if the benefits of the cooling technique would outweigh the costs.

“One of the things we have to calculate at the end of the project is how much additional water have we used in cooling these vineyards down at night and the cost of that water versus the potential increase in yield or potential increase in wine quality.”

“There’s also a management issue – if you’ve got a very large vineyard is it going to be possible to turn sprinklers on and off on every single patch of grapes in that vineyard in a single night, probably not.

“So therefore growers are going to have to make some rational decisions about their most profitable blocks and their most profitable varieties.”

“If that fruit is worth many thousands of dollars a tonne then retrofitting a sprinkler system to cool the vineyards on those few but critical hot nights during the season I suspect would be highly profitable.”

Dr McCarthy said he had previously witnessed the use of similar evaporative cooling systems in orchards in Washington state in the United States to help retain colour in apples but believed it was the first time it had been deliberately targeted in the wine industry.

He said the yield benefits of the project would begin to be known in the coming weeks following harvest but the effect on the wine would not be known until a full sensory analysis had been completed towards the end of the year.

“If this concept does work then Wine Australia will have to think about how they will get the results out to the wider industry.”

University of Adelaide Oenology Professor Dennis Taylor said temperatures throughout the growing season had the potential to significantly impact on the quality and flavours of wine.

“Any project like this will lead to new discoveries and will certainly be of interest to those doing the research and also to the winemakers and viticulturalists,” he said.

Source: Andrew Spence, The Lead, http://www.theleadsouthaustralia.com.au/industries/primary-industries/cool-solution-to-heat-stressed-vines/

29 Feb

Australia commits to a future of smart agriculture

Australia’s Coalition Government has announced its plans to expand the CSIRO’s decision support system for agricultural transit and infrastructure investments. The TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TRANSIT) aims to inform transport infrastructure investment decisions across the agriculture sector.

Australia’s Agriculture supply chains consist of distances of over 1,000 km between production, processing and markets, with resulting transport costs accounting for up to 40 per cent of the market price. TRANSIT was developed by CSIRO to analyse both small and large scale investments in the agriculture supply chain, with current applications for all northern livestock logistics.

The system works by analysing every possible combination of transport routes and methods (road and rail) and determining those that optimise vehicle movements between enterprises in the agriculture supply chain.

In his official statement, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said TRANSIT was an invaluable tool in supporting evidence-based infrastructure investment decisions.

“TRANSIT currently has applications for all northern livestock logistics. This $1 million expansion will see the tool’s applications extended to cover about 25 agricultural commodities, representing more than 95 per cent of Australia’s agricultural transport volume,” Minister Joyce said.

“Work is ahead of schedule to analyse the supply chains for grains (including wheat, barley, oats, lentils, chickpeas and canola), dairy, rice, cotton, pigs and sugar.

“Across our vast land, agriculture supply chains often span distances of more than 1000 kilometres, and transport costs can account for up to 40 per cent of the market price, squeezing profits at the farmgate.

“Investment in supply chain infrastructure is crucial to the ability of our agriculture sector to remain competitive and profitable, and to capture the significant opportunities presented by increasing food demand in Asia—but it is important that this investment is evidence based and delivers the greatest possible benefit to industry,” Minister Joyce said.

The commitment will also facilitate the federal government’s broader investments in agricultural infrastructure, such as the $100 million Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund and the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

The announcement came ahead of the recent news that CSIRO plans to cut up to 350 jobs across the organisation, including land, water and climate research.

Source: Anthony Wallace, http://www.spatialsource.com.au/2016/02/09/%E2%80%8Baustralia-commits-to-a-future-of-smart-agriculture/

12 Feb

NSW Farmers offer tertiary scholarships

NSW Farmers has committed $20,000 to tertiary scholarships for students committed to agriculture and rural communities.

Eligible students have until February 29 to apply for one of five scholarships valued at $4000 each.

NSW Farmers scholarships chair and Walcha farmer Sonia O’Keefe said the association’s scholarship program was a valuable opportunity to encourage and support young people who had a genuine desire to contribute to rural and regional Australia.

“It’s a great program to be involved in and I know that it has benefited a lot of students over the years,” Ms O’Keefe said.

To be eligible, students must be in their second or subsequent year of university study, or first or subsequent year of vocational study.

In addition, the applicant’s partner, parents or legal guardians must have been a full producer member of NSW Farmers for a period of two consecutive years at the time of application, or have been an active member of NSW Farmers in any category for a period of two consecutive years at the time of application.

Special consideration will be given to students who have displayed an active involvement with the NSW Young Farmers program.

Visit www.nswfarmers.org.au to view full details and application forms.

Forms must be completed and returned to the association by February 29 2016.

Source: http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/nsw-farmers-offer-tertiary-scholarships/2924119/

06 Feb

Five ways to raise HR standards

The business landscape looks vastly different now than it did 20, 10, even five years ago, and organisations have to do more and be more to stay afloat in an agile and rapidly changing environment. Boards and CEOs have to look beyond the horizon and contemplate how an uncertain future will impact the lifespan of their organisation.

What will be the thing that separates the grain from the chaff? The Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) and its research partner, Insync, sought to answer this question in a recent report. The survey sought the views and opinions of 821 company directors, CEOs, non-HR executives and HR professionals. Each respondent was asked to rate the importance and performance of HR based on 17 key attributes as outlined in AHRI’s Model of Excellence.

This number comprises 10 HR skills and behaviours, and seven areas of knowledge and capacity, all designed to determine who HR professionals are and what they know and do. These 17 attributes look beyond the ‘hiring and firing’ stereotype of HR to showcase the profession’s value as a strategic partner to businesses and industry leaders.

“Look at the context of the world we live in, with digital disruption, technology, globalisation – that’s the stuff that keeps CEOs up at night,” says Nick Barnett, CEO of Insync, who partnered with AHRI to conduct the survey. “We need to be more future focused, and that means using HR beyond the operational issues.”

Human capital and better people management are central to guaranteeing future business success. More than 90 per cent of executives rated employee engagement as critical to an organisation achieving its goals, and 95 per cent of HR professionals agreed. What’s more, when asked whether HR has an important role in influencing and shaping an organisation’s culture through good people management practices, 94 per cent of executives agreed and 98 per cent of HR professionals agreed.

That last statistic points to a slight discrepancy between how HR sees itself and where organisations rank the profession in order of importance, says Barnett. CEO and agency heads have high expectations for HR professionals, which are confirmed by those who work in the industry itself. But HR, by its own admission, often doesn’t live up to the promise entailed in those expectations, says AHRI CEO Lyn Goodear.

“The central reason goes to standards,” she says. “In a world that is fast changing and requires organisations to be fleet-footed, nimble and agile, the bar has long been set too low for HR.”

However, Goodear stresses that it’s not just HR practitioners who are responsible: “In the end, CEOs and agency heads need to demand that business partners responsible for the human capital of the enterprise must be clear about what they promise and be able to do what they promise.”

To help turn potential into reality, here are five ways HR practitioners – and businesses in general – can raise the bar:
1. Anticipate and lead change
According to executives, the two biggest opportunities for improvement for HR are future-oriented behaviour, and culture and change leader. HR professionals share similar thoughts, rating those two behaviours as part of a suite of four areas for improvement.In the words of one CEO respondent, HR should “understand broader organisation strategy beyond people dynamics and create opportunities for future planning and scenario planning.”HR should know more about an organisation’s culture than anyone else, and constantly ask: Is our culture sufficiently adaptable, agile and innovative to meet future challenges? Practitioners should also look at the speed at which their organisation operates. According to survey results, ‘stakeholder mentor and coach’, and ‘strategic architect’ are two areas where demand outpaces supply; executives clearly value wise counsel from HR, and they want more of it.

2. Live and breathe professionalism and credibility
The Insync study found that ‘professional’ and ‘credible’ ranked as the two most important attributes for HR among business leaders and HR professionals. One respondent noted that professionalism comes from “developing trust though effective communication and providing reason and purpose,” and another stated “model the way, exhibit and live the values of the organisation, keep confidences and treat people respectively.”Brand is important, especially after the GFC, and certification and professionalisation are key to elevating business perceptions about the HR industry.“If you look at comparable occupations, they all have certification standards,” Barnett says. “Why shouldn’t HR? That’s what will contribute to the profession becoming a critical part of future business success.”

3. Behaviours are more valued than knowledge
Consensus among executive and agency respondents was that the way HR do what they do is more important than what they know. This runs counter to recent trends in the industry that highlight data and analytics acumen as the way of the future. However, all 17 HR attributes featured in this survey are important to well-rounded HR practitioners – this is just a friendly reminder that the ‘human’ component of human resources is still very much a factor in the profession.Along with future-oriented and credible/professional, the other highly rated attributes are: resolver of issues; collaborative; understand and care; and solutions driven.

4. Be more self-aware
Across the board, executives said HR performance was lower than the performance ratings given by HR professionals. This shows that executives and agency heads are more critical of HR than HR is critical of itself. However, according to respondents, HR is very much aware of these shortcomings.Both HR and executives rated HR’s performance of each attribute lower than the respective importance of the attribute. This indicates that proactive, strategic HR continues to be an aspiration rather than a reality. This is an opportunity for HR practitioners to assess its role within businesses and reaffirm the image that it wants to present. One way to accomplish is to seek feedback from employees about how the department is performing. As one respondent said, “Our head of HR is constantly seeking employee feedback to better his team, and he isn’t afraid of getting out there and hearing what is truly going on on the ground.”

5. Champion the genuine care of employees
As Barnett points out, “If HR is known for anything, it’s the understanding and care of people.” He says that HR practitioners really need to leverage that strength, and not let others within an organisation denigrate the importance of caring for the company’s people.As mentioned earlier in this article, leaders see employee engagement and people management as key drivers of future business success. HR can – and should – remind everyone that people are very often a company’s biggest competitive advantage. HR must build a compelling narrative that explains the link between this quality and the performance of the business. Therefore, emotional and social intelligence is critical and HR must lead by example.

To view the full report, click here.

Source: Rachael Brown, HRM Online, http://www.hrmonline.com.au/section/featured/five-ways-to-raise-hr-standards/

04 Feb

Graduates and job search evolution: adapt or perish

We all know that the internet and Social Media has changed the face of Recruitment. It allows fast and worldwide distribution of job ads, as well as drastically increasing the speed of the connection between recruiters and high potential fit talents. However, studies and testimonies show that the average graduate’s Job Search process is taking longer and becoming more complicated. But what are the reasons for such a struggle? My personal guess is that graduates simply don’t focus on the true success factors when it comes to getting hired. The purpose of this post is to expose some of them.

1) The reign of discoverability

In the digital world we live in today, one key factor ruling the Job Search is discoverability. As a graduate, your first target shouldn’t even be recruiters, it should be Google. One reality of today’s digital era is that if you don’t appear on search engines, you don’t exist. This is of course very true for companies (especially start-ups) but also for job seekers. However, very few graduates are actually fully conscious of this fact. And even less of them are taking actions to increase their professional visibility. Studies have shown that recruiters almost systematically “Google” candidates at some point of the Recruitment process. Therefore, job seekers must make sure they appear on top results for their name search. And ideally, they should also work to appear on typical recruiters search queries such as; “Marketing master’s student Berlin LinkedIn”.

2) The domination of professional networks

A common misconception among students is also to think that being present on LinkedIn or other professional networks will solve all their problems of discoverability. However, the hard truth is that having a “static” professional profile on Social Media won’t help them to be found in an over-competitive Job Search market. “If you’re not building your online presence, and positioning your unique ROI and good-fit qualities in front of recruiters and your target employers, consider yourself invisible to the very people who can help you achieve your career goals” (Guiseppi, 2014). As shown in this quote of Guiseppi, graduates must have a proactive approach when it comes to Job Search. This includes working daily on their online presence, but also building their professional network. Adler (2014) also says; “A person who is referred to a recruiter from a trusted source is 20 times more likely to be hired.” This is why networking can’t be overlooked by graduates, especially in a digital world, where you now have the possibility to build professional relationships online directly from your office or your apartment.

3) The war for attitude

Another reason why graduates struggle to get the job they deserve is that they still believe that recruiters are strictly looking for hard and technical skills. However, in today’s world, every young job seeker has a Bachelor or a Master’s degree. As well as one or two internships in their background. This is why graduates have to realize that Recruitment is no longer a war for talent but more of a war for attitude. But what exactly does “good attitude” mean? And why do clever recruiters focus so much on it now? There are many justifications for this. The first one is that clever hiring specialists know that employees with more friends at the office will perform better. Commenting on the results of an IBM study that includes the observation of 2600 employees’ social behavior at work, Pfeffer (2013) says: “The best predictor of team success is not smarts or effort, it is how team members feel about one another.” Considering this argument, it is normal that recruiters look for candidates with a friendly attitude, who demonstrate smooth social skills during the Recruitment process.

4) The fight for trust

The second reason why hiring managers scan graduates’ attitude is because they want to determine whether or not they can trust the applicants. Trust is a key factor in the professional world because working in an office means collaboration. And when there is collaboration involved, there is a need for trust. As Pfeffer (2013) cleverly notices: “In the education system, collaboration is called cheating. In business, it’s the main way things get done.” For this reason, it is necessary for recruiters to determine early if a candidate can collaborate and be trusted. Finally, hiring managers scan graduates’ attitude to determine their motivations and their potential degree of corporate belonging.

Concluding on that important topic, Pfeffer (2013) says: “A recently published BYU business study finds that employees who are “true believers” in the mission of their organization are more likely to increase in status and influence than non-believers […], and shows that employees are being promoted not because they have the best skills, but because they appear to be in alignment and the company feels they can be trusted over others.” Which means that if graduates want to optimize their chances to be hired (and promoted in the future); they have to be not only qualified but also likable and approachable in order to inspire trust.

Pictures from: www.freedigitalphotos.net


Guiseppi, M. 2014, 10 Best Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Online, LinkedIn Pulse, Available from:http://linkd.in/1KgDL0m. (Last accessed 08/2015).

Pfeffer, J. 2013, This Is The Number One Thing That Holds Most People Back From Success, bakadesuyo.com, Available from: http://bit.ly/1QEx1JJ. (Last accessed 08/2015).

Source: Leo Loison, Founder and CEO, Stand Out Circle. http://standoutcircle.com/blog/category/personal-branding-online-networking/graduates-and-job-search-evolution-adapt-or-perish/ 

28 Jan

Agriculture: the pathway out of poverty

Have you ever thought about the role that Australia’s livestock industry plays in alleviating poverty in developing nations?

Australians generally don’t think about where the origin of our food because for us, food is a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need’. We don’t know what it is like to really need food, which is something too many of us take for granted.

The conversations in Australia about food ethics just don’t occur in developing nations because families who are struggling to get enough food on the table simply haven’t got the luxury of turning their noses up at caged eggs or genetically modified rice.

Members of Australia’s livestock export industry have a proud record of working with customers in countries with comparably high levels of poverty.

Some 1.4 billion or 20 per cent of the world lives in extreme poverty, trying to struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day.

World Bank statistics indicate 12.5pc of Indonesians live below the poverty line and in Vietnam, the number is 17.2pc. These rates are declining which is wonderful to see and the role that we as Australia producers, supply chain experts, educators, trainers and government agencies are playing in that space is fantastic.

Australia’s live cattle trade is helping to meet the increase in demand for beef from Indonesia’s growing middle class, which is helping to combat poverty because as more Australian cattle are consigned to Indonesia’s rural feedlots, more and more jobs are being created where they are needed most.

Supplying jobs in rural areas, where poverty is concentrated, is one of the first steps in breaking the poverty cycle. When Indonesia’s rural poor start working in a feedlot, they also learn how to feed livestock.

If they are supplying fodder to feedlots, they are learning to grow crops.

The live export industry creates over 100,000 jobs in Indonesia for rural families, which is a staggering figure.

Ibu Neny from in Indonesia is a wonderful example of how the live export industry is helping alleviate poverty.

Ibu Neny, together with her feedlot worker husband, and their three young children used to eat beef once a month.

Ibu Neny didn’t have a job and with Australia’s breeding programs in feedlots in Indonesia, she was employed to look after the calves.

Subsequently, that family is now able to provide beef twice a month and buy books for her children’s education.

One of the reasons I was drawn to Australia’s live export trade with Indonesia is the way the supply-and-demand system worked so perfectly for both countries.

Australia boasts vast northern rangelands which need to be grazed to increase the amount of carbon present in the soil and assist in overall environmental management.

These rangelands are dominated by a class of cattle that don’t finish well all year round due to the seasonal cycle of Australia’s north.

Across the Timor Sea, Indonesia is nation of wonderfully resourceful people who prepare feed for cattle based mostly on waste products which would otherwise be burnt in a pit.

Turning those byproducts into beef creates protein, jobs and significant economic activity.

The relationship between Australia and Indonesia is mutually beneficial, because our northern cattle industry needs the market demand and the Indonesians need our beef.

Given we are next-door neighbours, it makes perfect sense.

The live cattle trade from Australia is also helping small-scale Indonesian cattle producers in the development of specialized breeding programs.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research has also done a lot of work in this space with its very successful StrawCow Project.

As an industry our commitment to animal welfare remains stronger than ever, but we should never underestimate our role in improving human welfare too.

We have capacity to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives, in animals lives, as well as environmentally and economically. By managing the supply chain in sustainably, we are ensuring the live cattle trade is well-placed to thrive for many years to come.

Australian producers and exporters involved in the livestock export trade are contributing massively to reducing poverty on a global scale.

It is imperative we continue the great work that is being done and we maintain our track-record for innovation and modernisation.

The power of agriculture and the role it plays in alleviating poverty is enormous.

With all of us working together, we will leave this planet a better place.

Catherine Marriott, executive officer of the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association

SOURCE: http://www.stockjournal.com.au/story/3665093/agriculture-the-pathway-out-of-poverty/?cs=4862

28 Jan

Weather bureau: 2015 fifth-warmest year on record

This month’s release of the Bureau of Meteorology’s Annual Climate Statement confirms the dominant influence of El Niño on Australia’s climate during 2015, with warmer than average temperatures recorded across the country.

Rainfall was well below average in southwest Western Australia, southeast South Australia, western to central Victoria, much of Tasmania and a large area of inland Queensland.

Acting Assistant Director for Climate Information Services, Dr Scott Power, said temperatures ranked as the fifth warmest on record for Australia in 2015.

“The national mean temperature was 0.83°C above average, with a number of notable heatwaves during the year and record-breaking temperatures from October to December”.

Dr Power said the Bureau declared an El Niño in early May and it went on to develop into the most significant El Nino in nearly two decades, ranking alongside the El Niños of 1997–98 and 1982–83.

Long-term drought in Queensland continued, following three successive poor wet-seasons, and a slow start to the 2015–16 wet season.

Drought areas increased through Victoria, South Australia and southwest Western Australia throughout 2015.

Other significant climate facts in 2015 include:

  • For Australia as a whole, rainfall was 5% below average for the year, at 443.7 mm.
  • January was wetter than average for large areas, but it was drier than average across the country for most of the year, with a notably warm and dry end to the year.
  • September 2015 was the third-driest September on record nationally.
  • Seven tropical cyclones occurred during 2015: Lam, Marcia, Olwyn, Nathan, Ikola, Quang, and Racquel. Cyclone Marcia was the strongest at landfall (as category 5, near Yeppoon, on 20 February).
  • Severe thunderstorms caused widespread damage in Melbourne on 28 February.
  • A record autumn hot spell occurred across large parts of northern and central Australia during March.
  • An East Coast Low between 20 and 23 April caused severe weather and flooding throughout the Sydney, Hunter and Central Coast regions of New South Wales.
  • A significant cold outbreak occurred over south-eastern Australia between 11 and 17 July, with snow falling on the Great Dividing Range in southern Queensland.
  • Significant bushfires occurred in Sampson Flat (SA) in January, Lancefield (Vic.) and Port Lincoln (SA) in October, Esperance (WA) in mid-November, Pinery (SA) in late November, and near Lorne (Vic.) in late December.
  • A tornado caused significant damage in the southern suburbs of Sydney on 16 December.

Nationally, Australian temperatures have warmed approximately one degree Celsius since 1950, consistent with global climate trends. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2015 is almost certain to be the warmest year on record globally.

The Annual Climate Statement 2015 and a video explanation are available on the Bureau’s website.

SOURCE: http://media.bom.gov.au/releases/237/bureau-confirms-2015-was-australias-fifth-warmest-year-on-record/

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