Scholarship Draws Talent into Manufacturing

AUSTRALIA - Many of Australia’s leading dairy manufacturers have opened their doors again to attract and train the next crop of talented graduates as part of Dairy Australia’s 2012 Manufacturing Scholarship.
calendar icon 24 February 2012
clock icon 4 minute read

For the next nine weeks Alfreda Kwok, Michelle Drader, Dimitrios (Jim) Babatsikos, Rosie Sanderson, Isnaya Widiatra and Diana D’Silva will be trained in dairy manufacturing by the experts at many of Australia’s large and medium sized dairy manufacturing factories.

The group is excited at the prospect of gaining an insight into the industry through three to five day placements at Murray Goulburn (Cobram and Edith Creek), Fonterra (Cobden and Cororooke), Parmalat (Brisbane), Bega Cheese (Bega), Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (Allansford), Lion Foods Division (Burnie) and La Casa Del Fromaggio (Adelaide).

In 2011, more than 65 per cent of the trained graduates ended up with jobs with the dairy manufacturing companies within a few months of completing the training. Dairy Australia program manager product innovation Dr Mani Iyer said the scholarship was aimed at attracting talented and passionate graduates, following a Dairy Australia study in 2010 which found there was a lack of new graduates entering the industry.

Alfreda has always been interested in the dairy industry and couldn’t wait for the scholarship to start. She hopes to really experience what it is like to work in the field and learn about the pasteurisation of raw milk and spray drying milk.

“I would like to start as a process engineer in dairy manufacturing and work my way into researching and developing improved solutions to the challenges encountered in the mass production of dairy products,” she said.

Michelle is very keen to move into the Quality Assurance area of a dairy company and wants to learn how the company ensures their product is safe and of high quality.

“I find the QA side of companies very interesting and would like to be involved in developing and implementing quality systems and procedures,” she said. “I also hope to learn about current and future issues facing the dairy industry.”

Putting theory into practice on a commercial scale is what Dimitrios (Jim) is looking forward to the most.

“With the prospect of becoming a dairy food safety auditor, I hope the scholarship will help me understand what areas of a dairy plant to closely examine and watch out for when conducting a food safety audit,” he said. “Basically, the ins and outs of processing machinery and what to look out for that would affect the quality and safety of dairy products.”

For someone who has dabbled in making cheese at home, being accepted into the scholarship was an important goal for Rosie.

“I find the whole process of making cheese interesting and this is a good opportunity to get into the industry. I wanted to participate in the scholarship since it first started,” she said. “In the future I hope to be involved in a product development or innovation role. I hope to learn about the technology factories and farms are using and the science behind dairy processing and cheese making to help me understand how the different products are produced and the potential for innovation.”

Isnaya has a passion for food and for dairy and hopes the scholarship will give her the opportunity work in a career with something she loves.

“This will provide great exposure and a kick start in what is a big industry with plenty of opportunities,” she said. “I hope I will get theoretical and practical experience to broaden my knowledge and assist me to develop my career in the future.”

To work in research and development for the food industry has been Diana’s dream since starting university.

“I’m very excited about the scholarship because it will be good for my career and help me apply the theory side of my education,” she said. “I hope to learn about the manufacturing and applications of dairy products, starter cultures, probiotics, thermal processing, modified atmosphere packaging, labeling, practices that affect the quality of milk, and distribution and marketing of the finished product.”

Dr Iyer said there were a large number of applications and the judging panel had a challenging task to choose the six winners based on their academic excellence, work experience and communication skills. Overall, the winners of the scholarship selected are talented, committed and passionate graduates keen to be part of our industry.

“This is an exciting program for the scholarship winners who are trained over two months by dairy experts in the field and it covers theory, practical and commercial aspects,” Dr Iyer said. “It is a chance of a lifetime for the winners and a great way for the industry to grow its manufacturing workforce with the best talent available.”

The scholarship involves a comprehensive training program at the National Centre for Dairy Education Australia (NCDEA) in Werribee which covers dairy chemistry, microbiology and the processing of milk into products such as milk powder, butter, market milk and cheese. The participants will also spend three to five hours at DemoDairy research farm in south west Victoria and Kraft Foods, Port Melbourne.

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