New training programs to boost Victorian racing workforce

Racing Victoria (RV) has taken steps to boost its support for industry participants and job seekers by creating new training opportunities for those entering the sport or looking to advance their career.

 The introduction of two new pilot programs comes following industry engagement on upskilling and employment opportunities, which led RV to formalise a new workforce strategy focused on attracting those people that can be workforce ready in a short period of time.

The roll-out of the two fully funded pilot programs will not only build on the skills of those already working within the industry but those new or eager to join the sport.

To facilitate the two training programs, RV has engaged registered training organisations Melbourne Polytechnic and Community College Gippsland, who will work in tandem with the Victorian racing industry to deliver the practical and theory-based elements of both courses. These will be in addition to the existing workplace training delivered by Skillinvest and Bendigo Harness Racing and Training Centre.

For those currently working within the Victorian racing industry with the appropriate riding skills, the Slow Trackwork Rider Course creates a great opportunity to continue working while learning the necessary skills to be accredited as a trackwork rider.

Instead of having to commit to the previous full-time six month course, which was a barrier for many participants, the new course conducted by Melbourne Polytechnic will run one day per week over a 12 week period at the Melbourne Polytechnic Northern Lodge Training Centre. It caters for experienced horse riders wanting to get started in trackwork riding.

The first intake for the course will cater for up to 15 riders and is planned to commence in September 2021 pending COVID restrictions.

For those new or about the enter the Victorian racing industry, the Stable Start Program will deliver a practical experience to learn about working in a stable and around horses, and enable completion of training requirements to be a licensed stable employee.

The program will initially be available at both Cranbourne Training Centre and Ballarat Racecourse, running one day a week for five weeks and includes both online learning and face to face practical sessions. It is planned to start in September 2021 pending COVID restrictions.

For any participants who complete either the Slow Trackwork Rider or Stable Start course, any outstanding fees following government subsidies and concessions will be covered by RV. Those not currently working in the industry will have their first year stable employee registration covered by RV once they have completed three months industry employment.

RV has communicated directly with trainers and stable employees on how to register for either course, and will be working closely with the training providers and its stakeholders and partners to promote the courses to those not currently working in the industry.

In addition to the two courses, RV has complemented its flagship Apprentice Jockey Training Program, with the creation of a Rider Development Squad comprising of 30 trackwork riders that applied for the 2022 intake to the Apprentice Jockey Training Program.

This program takes on all the hallmarks of the Apprentice Jockey Training Program to advance a rider’s skills, confidence and general development as an athlete. This includes jump out assessments, a development day (pending COVID restrictions), creation of fitness plans and ongoing feedback and support.

RV has also approved the employment of a new Workforce Development Officer who will work closely with trainers to ensure they maximise Government traineeship incentives and to assist in work placements from training programs. RV has just begun advertising for this role.

To further enhance the opportunities for those who wish to enter the Victorian racing industry, RV is also working with training providers to create a VCAL pathway for secondary school students to incorporate racing qualifications in course choices.

Quotes attributable to RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson:

“RV has taken the steps to formalise and deliver a new workforce strategy, with a number of new programs and initiatives set to commence in 2021 to support the continued growth and development of our 25,000-strong statewide workforce.

“As part of the new strategic direction, we are now focused on a more targeted careers and workforce engagement approach, aimed at attracting those that can be workforce ready in a short period of time.

“With this in mind, and following direct consultation with industry participants on upskilling and employment opportunities, we are pleased to support the introduction of the Slow Trackwork Rider Course, Stable Start Program and Rider Development Squad, along with the employment of a new Workforce Development Officer to not only build the skills of those already working within the industry but those new or eager to join our sport.

”From previous experience we also know that there is a high demand for upskilling but most of our participants want to “learn and earn”. That’s why it’s been important to create flexible, hands-on courses that best support and suit our industry and the way our participants want to learn.

“Ultimately, all these initiatives aim to support an industry that offers genuine lifelong career opportunities – whether that be an apprentice jockey, trackwork rider, administrator, stablehand or aspiring trainer.”