It all started as a small family business 85 years ago. Today, Darwalla Group raises more than 25 million chickens a year, making it Queensland’s largest owned poultry producer. The company also owns 50 per cent of the Golden Cockerel processing operation at Mt Cotton.
A highly specialised operation, Darwalla now employs 180 staff, 111 casual staff, and 40 contractors across its operations. Training such a massive group is a huge responsibility given Darwalla’s focus on quality and its need to comply with strict industry requirements and RSPCA animal welfare standards.
Juan Corredor, Human Resources and Quality Assurance Manager, says Darwalla began providing vocational education training (VET) more than a decade ago offering Certificates II and III qualifications in food processing. Over the years, training has ramped up with the number and scope of its programs increasing so the company continues to meet ever changing codes of practice, legal requirements and industry specifications.
In the recent past, Darwalla has implemented several fully funded accredited programs, including Certificate IV qualifications in front line management, leadership and management, business sustainability, competitive systems, and training and assessment.
Training new and existing employees has proven to be a smart move given the poultry market’s volatile and competitive nature.
‘The value of our training can’t be underestimated,’ says Juan. ‘It has helped Darwalla gain efficiencies and maintain a competitive edge against larger organisations. We’ve reduced production time, established clearer goals and better communications, improved process flow, and maximised company resources.’
Darwalla’s training schedule crosses all departments. All employees undertake internal or external training, even though operations are geographically spread across Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Training is also scheduled to meet the demands of Darwalla’s 24-7 operations.
‘We consider the needs of all employees, so everyone can reach their potential,’ says Juan. ‘One of our truck drivers is deaf-mute so we customise training methods for his needs. We also provide one-on-one training, using visual aids and assistance with work instruction, for employees with reading or writing challenges.’
‘It’s not a cliché at Darwalla. Our employees are our most valuable asset,’ says Juan. ‘If we don’t grow our own people through tailored, world-class training, we won’t survive. VET is our first choice for this.’
Darwalla has seen the ripple effects of winning the Australian Training Awards and as an Australian VET Alumni member will encourage other medium employers to seize the opportunity. ‘It’s validated our total commitment to training and is a point of pride for management and staff,’ says Juan.
To find out more about how you can gain real skills for a real career through a VET qualification, visit http://www.myskills.gov.au/