Dr Nicole McDonald pictured at the CDAA conference with fellow cotton industry education co-presenters: Trudy Staines of CSIRO and Cotton Australia's Jenny Hughes and Lucy Burrows.

CRDC-supported researcher receives Excellence in Career Development Research award

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Published: 
September 30, 2019

Cotton industry researcher Dr Nicole McDonald has received the 2019 Excellence in Career Development Research award from Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA). CDAA is Australia’s largest cross-sectoral community of career development practitioners. 

The award was presented at the CDAA conference in Canberra, held earlier this month. 

“It is wonderful to be recognised by the CDAA for this research as it reflects the reputation the cotton industry has for being a progressive industry that values its people,” Nicole said.

As the core of Nicole’s CRDC research projects over the past five years, her research seeks to understand how an increasingly digital approach to agriculture is changing the structure and the skills required of the cotton industry workforce.

“Who do we recruit, retain, and how do we support our current workforce to adapt?” Nicole says.

“If we want agile businesses that aim to capitalise on new opportunities, we need agile people.

“This includes identifying what technical skills are required and how best to train for them, but also the research shows we need to be aware of and have a plan to cultivate all of those underlying abilities that help people to thrive at work.

“We’re identifying the facilitators and barriers as well as generating potential solutions to developing the mindsets, the attitudes, and the behaviours that strengthen a central part of farm productivity: our future workforce. 

“I’d like to acknowledge the support from my supervisor Peter McIlveen and the University of Southern Queensland’s ACCELL research team, CRDC, Cotton Australia and the broader cotton growing community.”

Nicole’s research is now being used to advocate for career development to be part of a national approach to agricultural workforce development. As a result of her research and advocacy, Nicole has been admitted into the 2030 National Farmers’ Federation Leaders and Australian Rural Leadership Foundation alumni.