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Skillinvest expands Wimmera equine training service into South Australia

FEEDING AN INDUSTRY: Skillinvest’s equine program co-ordinator David Cookson is pictured with jockey Holly McKechnie from Horsham’s Preusker Racing stable. Ms McKechnie, pictured with prize-winning Horsham horse Magic Consol, is among many people working in Victoria’s thoroughbred racing industry who have sharpened their skills through the Wimmera program. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

FEEDING AN INDUSTRY: Skillinvest’s equine program co-ordinator David Cookson is pictured with jockey Holly McKechnie from Horsham’s Preusker Racing stable. Ms McKechnie, pictured with prize-winning Horsham horse Magic Consol, is among many people working in Victoria’s thoroughbred racing industry who have sharpened their skills through the Wimmera program. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

By DEAN LAWSON
A Wimmera training organisation helping to provide a backbone for Victoria’s multi-billion-dollar thoroughbred racing industry has expanded equine services into South Australia.
Horsham-based Skillinvest started providing government-funded training services to the South Australian equine industry this week.
The move means Skillinvest’s role as a major player in the industry’s south-east Australian workforce, involving the training of track riders, stable hands and trainers, is pushing further interstate.
Skillinvest, which started as a one-person organisation in 1986, is a registered training organisation with headquarters in Horsham, offices across Victoria and is also a group-training organisation employing about 500 apprentices and trainees. It also runs Longerenong College.
Skillinvest has grown to become the largest provider of equine training services in the Victorian thoroughbred-racing industry.
Conservative estimates are that more than 4000 trainees, reflective of about a quarter of the state’s ‘nuts and bolts’ racing-industry workforce, have been involved in the Skillinvest equine program since it started about eight years ago.
The program has a consistent annual enrolment of about 150 trainees in Victoria and the South Australian program will start with about 40.
Managers, officials and trainers, in forging a critical role in the sport, are travelling constantly for meetings and rubbing shoulders with leading figures and stables in the Victorian racing industry.
The program, developed in the Wimmera under the co-ordination of David Cookson and his team, has already spread into Tasmania.
The South Australian deal, which the South Australian Government signed off on last week, is similar to a Victorian government-funded arrangement.
Skillinvest regional training manager Ian Westhead said the organisation, alongside its other training programs, had identified a niche market and was helping to fill a shortfall of trained staff in the industry.
“In the past eight years we’ve filled a gap and we continue to do that,” he said.
“We’ve had such a strong relationship with the industry across western Victoria that we seized the opportunity to grow the program beyond these boundaries.
“Over time we’ve worked with the industry to develop relevant program content that meets current and future skills and knowledge requirements for ongoing workforce development. We’ve seen an opportunity to springboard from the Wimmera across Victoria and interstate into Tasmania, and now South Australia.

FEEDING AN INDUSTRY: Skillinvest’s equine program co-ordinator David Cookson is pictured with jockey Holly McKechnie from Horsham’s Preusker Racing stable. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

FEEDING AN INDUSTRY: Skillinvest’s equine program co-ordinator David Cookson is pictured with jockey Holly McKechnie from Horsham’s Preusker Racing stable. Ms McKechnie, pictured with prize-winning Horsham horse Magic Consol, is among many people working in Victoria’s thoroughbred racing industry who have sharpened their skills through the Wimmera program. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER


“We are simply responding to industry demand. We’re providing the foundation training in skills and knowledge for the current and future racing workforce.”
Mr Westhead said as well as providing a critical conduit between students keen to get involved in racing and others already in the industry, the program’s evolution was potentially creating a need for Skillinvest to increase staff levels.
“In the past 12 months the growth of the equine program has led to several more people joining the staff in the Wimmera and that is likely to continue to increase,” Mr Westhead said.
“The success of the program demonstrates with the appropriate incentive and direction, a developing Wimmera organisation can deliver high-quality training programs across three states.”
Skillinvest regional general manager Kurt Frooninckx echoed Mr Westhead’s comments, adding the organisation’s civil and building and construction training streams also had solid marketplace traction.
“What’s happening in the evolution of our programs, in this case providing training for the equine industry, is a good-news story – not only for us, but also for the Wimmera,” he said.

The entire September 12, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Sep 12 2018

Posted by on Sep 12 2018. Filed under FEATURED, News, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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