Geoffrey Thompson Holding’s technical manager and Shepparton local, Bisi Oladele, has received a Nuffield Scholarship and will travel abroad to research the changing requirements of human capital in the horticulture industry as it continues to become more automated.
Having travelled to Australia from Nigeria in 1990, Ms Oladele, who gained a PhD focusing on food technology post-harvest from the University of New South Wales, has held a number of food industry and harvest jobs across Sydney and Shepparton, before settling into her current role.
Having started her role as a technical manager with Geoffrey Thompson Holdings seven years ago, Ms Oladele has overseen the growing role of automation, with production expected to increase by 20 per cent over the next three years as a result of further automation.
Through her scholarship, which was supported by the William Buckland Foundation, Ms Oladele is planning to investigate concerns that the horticulture industry is ill-equipped in human capital to efficiently perform in an increasingly automated and expanding industry.
‘‘As our population grows and open doors into the export market, strategic planning for the future of produce growing and processing is required,’’ she said.
Looking to further understanding how Australia is competing with the rest of the world, Ms Oladele plans to visit top apple and pear producing and exporting countries including Italy, Brazil and South Africa as part of her research.
‘‘Everyone is going in the way towards technology, increasing yield and production and getting more into export market.
‘‘(Visiting other countries) is a good way of telling whether we are doing things well.’’
Now calling Shepparton home, Ms Oladele said she wanted to ‘‘give back’’ to the region and hoped the industry could work to keep talented workers in the region, rather than seeing them leave for capital cities.
She plans to use her scholarship to promote career pathways and raise awareness of opportunities in horticulture to school students, with an objective to recruit, train and retain high quality workers.