FRDC has a significant and long-term commitment to supporting the development of people in fisheries and aquaculture. The current guide for investment is the People Development Program Plan 2013-2015. This review has been undertaken to consider progress against that Plan and to provide advice about what the future goals of a FRDC people development program could be.
FRDC invests in people to assist in the delivery of its priorities in Environment, Industry and Communities and to support Extension. Investing in people assists in the future-preparedness of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and is a core requirement of successful succession planning. It ensures that there is a pipeline of individuals who are representative of the diversity of the sector, understand how to engage with other sectors and the community beyond the boundaries of fisheries and aquaculture and who are equipped to take up leadership roles.
The current review, undertaken by Anwen Lovett Consulting, was asked to consider progress since 2013. The objective being to consider the past and current FRDC People Development Program to determine which elements of it should be the focus of future FRDC investment and what should be the goals of a people development program for next 5 plus years.
FRDC has advised that it remains committed to investment which develops people in fisheries and aquaculture. FRDC asked the reviewer to take a forward-looking perspective when considering the current portfolio, particularly in terms of where and how FRDC should invest to help future-prepare fisheries and aquaculture. That includes:
- appreciating that capacity across fisheries and aquaculture sectors is not equal. The leadership and capacity skills needs, and the interventions that are most suitable will differ;
- developing leaders who can build trust with the community locally, nationally and internationally;
- individuals who have an external and globally orientated outlook;
- future-proofing skills and capabilities in fisheries and aquaculture; and
- enabling the sector to find value and competitive advantage from the rapid digital, Internet of Things and technological revolution which continues world-wide.
The review was conducted from November 2018 until February 2019. The approach taken included a desktop review and evaluation of existing FRDC investments in people development, other related investments in people by other organisations and telephone interviews with 25 stakeholders including FRDC staff, graduates of FRDC supported leadership programs, research providers and other fisheries and aquaculture sector members. A list of stakeholders interviewed is in Appendix 1.
The key outcome of this review was a positive endorsement of FRDC’s leadership role in developing people and that this must continue in the future. FRDC stakeholders consider FRDC to be “the mother ship” organisation for assistance and expertise in identifying and pursuing opportunities to develop people. FRDC is thought to be ahead of the game in its awareness of and durable commitment to investing in people.
More recently there has been a dissipation in the level of internal attention FRDC has directed toward people development. This is in part due to staff changes but also the devolution of some people development responsibilities to IPAs, subprogams and RACs.
The current FRDC portfolio is adequately represented across the leadership hierarchy and maturity levels of workforce development. There are however some areas which may benefit from increased attention. These include building science capacity and encouraging greater diversity in participation – youth, women, other cultures, indigenous and recognising that capacity is not equal across fisheries and aquaculture enabling the development of entry level and early stage leadership capability. FRDC supported leadership programs should also include capacity needs such as global perspectives, collaboration, entrepreneurship and innovation business development.
There also continues to be a mis-match between stakeholders saying people development is important with the level of funding and commitment to participate overall being low. While IPAs and RACs were charged with leading on people development within sectors and regions, outcomes according to stakeholders have been variable and in some cases weak.
There is therefore the opportunity for FRDC to re-engage in its leadership function of people development. This review is recommending a Statement of Intent supported by an implementation and evaluation framework. It is also proposed that FRDC enhances its coordination and information sharing functions in people development, which will assist in increasing awareness, motivating increased rates of application and participation. A stronger coordination and communication function by FRDC will also assist IPAs, RACs and subprograms to engage more strongly in developing people.