Fleurieu Milk Company has developed a comprehensive dairy processing-specific training program, which is set to revolutionise training in South Australia. Its new Digital Leaning Pathway is already leading to improved food safety outcomes across the Fleurieu Milk business.

The Fleurieu Milk Digital Learning Pathway has been in development since 2020.Adam Wilkinson, WHS Compliance Manager at Fleurieu Milk, is leading the project in partnership with Fleurieu Milk Quality Assurance Manager, Tina Filippidis.

“We were doing all the standard training and we found there were significant gaps and limited training resources that are bespoke to dairy processing,” Adam said.

“You have to go to a number of different websites to access different training courses, which is difficult to manage. We started to consider where we get our training from. As well as the various dairy processing short courses, we looked at the Cert III in Food Processing, which is the overarching qualification, but that is very broad.”

Fleurieu Milk decided to develop its own milk processing training course and successfully applied for a Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Workforce Innovation Grant to support the development of modules.

The first challenge was developing the content. Fleurieu Milk’s original goal was to create 11 modules.

“We had a look at all the different jobs within Fleurieu Milk and what the requirements of those jobs are. Whether you’re a plant operator, or on the bottling line, we looked at the key skills that are needed to perform each job, including pasteurisation, separation, homogenisation, cleaning, hazards, and food safety,” Adam said.

“We started delving into each module and soon realised we needed to break up some of the modules to ensure they aren’t overwhelming. We now plan to develop 31 modules covering all areas of milk processing, which meet all food safety standards.”

The food safety modules have also been checked and approved by Dairysafe, the legislative body that oversees the production of all dairy products in South Australia to ensure that food safety standards are maintained.

The next challenge was creating a training delivery method that would suit every employee. Significant research led Fleurieu Milk to EdApp, a training platform offered by SafetyCulture.

Fleurieu Milk Employee Doug Pollnitz undertaking Microbiological Testing in Dairy Manufacturing on EDApp online Learning.

“EdApp has given us the ability to turn all our modules into a digital leaning experience which is really easy for our employees to use, and it offers us analytics and certificates of completion. So now each manager within the business can see each employee’s training progress,” Adam said.

“it’s a progressive training approach that involves online training and on the job training to reinforce the learning.

“Now anybody who starts work at Fleurieu Milk, whether they have a background in dairy or not, can work through the modules to become a skilled dairy processing professional.”

Since introducing its new Digital Leaning Pathway, Fleurieu Milk has already seen an improvement in food safety knowledge and culture.

“We’ve upskilled five new Quality Controllers across the business. Before this pathway, our QA team consisted of two staff members. We now have someone monitoring our quality processes throughout every shift,” Adam said.

“We’ve also introduced a program of non-conformances where mistakes are identified, and training is triggered. A non-conformance isn’t a written warning, it’s an intervention for training. We’ll sit them down and talk about where the process went wrong and the training that’s required to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“Then we take them through the relevant course on our EdApp Digital Leaning Pathway to refresh their training and get them back out onto the floor.”

Adam said interventions linked to training had heightened everyone’s food safety knowledge across the business.

“We’re so proud of the food safety culture that we’ve built at Fleurieu Milk,” he said. “It’s allowing us to be an employer of choice. And our new training program is enabling us to take people with the right mindset from bank manager roles and completely different industries and train them up to be milk processing professionals.”

The next challenge is enabling access to the Fleurieu Milk’s Digital Learning Pathway for the wider South Australian dairy processing industry.

“Skills gaps and labour shortages are big issues in our industry but there’s not a lot being done about it. We need a tangible plan on how we’re going to attract new people to the dairy processing industry and how we’re going to train them up,” Adam said.

To further this, Fleurieu Milk is talking with other industry professionals to see if there’s an opportunity to build a National Dairy Centre of Excellence, where their internal training program could be extended to industry, and to showcase Australian dairy through tourism and education.

To find out more about Fleurieu Milk click here.

Adam Wilkinson conducting a Practical Assessment on Fleurieu Milk new team member Henry Walsh, Crate Packer.