Innovative training to boost regional capacity
Four new recruits represent a fresh training strategy for CBH’s Grain Protection function and a potential model for our regionally based, business critical skilled workforce.
A critical service
CBH has 13 Grain Protection teams strategically located across our five zones. With three people per team, there are about 40 people in total dedicated to managing fumigations and pest control (think weeds, rodents, and birds) throughout our storage network.
The Grain Protection Officers (GPO) undertake regulated, precise and technical work requiring careful management and skilled deployment - and often conducted in uncomfortable environments.
“These roles are specialised and carry significant responsibility. Our teams respect the risks involved and are committed to ensuring workplace safety as well as maintaining compliance with the relevant legislative obligations,” said James Newman, CBH Grain Protection Manager.
Gain, train and retain
Like most workplaces, our Grain Protection teams are impacted by COVID issues and a tight labour market, especially in the regional locations where the teams live and work. A more specific issue for the team is the need for succession planning as retirement approaches for a few members.
“To manage these factors, we thought through a strategy to gain, train and retain GPOs,” explained Pat Chandler, CBH Standards and Training Supervisor - Grain Protection.
“Our focus was on creating a model that would attract the best people to CBH and the Grain Protection function, provide the new trainees with targeted training, mentoring and practical field experience to accelerate their learning journey, utilise graduates centrally to support regional teams over peak activity periods and to have a competent pool of qualified GPOs to fill regional grain protection teams as positions become available,” Pat said.
The new recruits
The four new GPO employees joined the Grain Protection team about three months ago.
Hannah Penson was a Receival Point Operator from Area 16 in the Albany Zone for the past two years; Jess McManus came from the Metro Grain Centre in Forrestfield; Anthony Bowen has done a couple of harvest casual jobs with us in the Geraldton Zone; and Zane Marwick is completely new to CBH.
All have personal connections back into regional Western Australia and are currently based with Pat at the Australian Grains Centre in Forrestfield.
Pat explained that it normally takes about 18 months for a person to study and secure the relevant licenses and gain the required field experience for a permanent GPO role.
However, he is streamlining this to ~six months – with the support of external training providers, the central Grain Protection specialists and CBH field teams.
Hannah, Jess, Anthony, and Zane are about 95 percent through their training – well ahead of a regular schedule thanks to 10 registered training organisation providers covering off on nearly 20 separate courses and assessments. This is on top of the many required CBH internal courses and stewardship training.
In the field and beyond
With their training nearing completion, they are starting to get out and about for regional GPO field experience.
Pat is collaborating with our regional Grain Protection teams regarding in-field opportunities as well as backfilling, peak loading and covering leave so the four can continue to gain a variety of experiences across our different zones and be ready for permanent roles with CBH as they arise.
“Their deployment also provides the opportunity for our experienced Grain Protection team members to lean into the mentoring role that CBH is encouraging of its senior people. It is a unique chance to help guide future career direction and potential development with our group or elsewhere within CBH,” Pat said.
“Ultimately, it’s a multi-faceted strategy that looks to fast-track new employee readiness, respond to contemporary workplace challenges – particularly in the regions, and enhance CBH’s longer term organisational capacity through nurturing career development,” Pat said.