Rural Merchandising and Sales Project

Menu: Click across the green arrows to view active and completed project stages. Consultation takes place at every stage of the project.

Case for change

Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management (AHC) are key contributors to the Australian economy. Merchandising operations and sales play a vital role in keeping these industries afloat, providing the technology, equipment and services to make businesses competitive.

The skills required for rural merchandising overlap with other retail work. However, specific knowledge of the agricultural sector is necessary to provide information to farmers and horticulturalists about the products they are purchasing. The specifics of this knowledge are always shifting due to technological advancements and the fast-paced nature of retail environments. As such rural merchandisers require consistently updated training that recognises the unique challenges of working in such a large-scale industry.

Due to the nature and scale of the Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management sector, industry representatives have recommended a strategic approach to reviewing the AHC Training Package. This involves identifying and reviewing units by their sector classification rather than by their listing in qualifications. This approach should significantly increase the speed of review of all qualifications, units of competency and skill sets within the AHC Training Package, while minimising the burden of voluntary support on industry.

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project out of the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Industry Sector IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2019-2022 (see pages 32-43).

Skills Impact and the Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see pages 32-43)

Project Plan

Australian farmers and horticulturalists spend billions of dollars every year on products and services to keep their businesses efficient and economically viable. Rural merchandising workers are usually the first point of contact for farmers looking to invest in machinery, technology and other services. These retail employees are often in customer-facing service and sales roles, advising on farm specific merchandise, handling inventory control, processing orders in the context of the AHC environment. Importantly, rural merchandising also relates to the work of livestock auctioneers, stock and station agents, real estate agents, business managers and agronomists.

Specialised knowledge is required to sell the equipment and chemicals used in agricultural businesses. Knowledge of the parts and warranties of different machines or the appropriate chemicals to use with certain crops or livestock are vital to ensuring farmers get the right products for the job. Farmers may drive hours to purchase a replacement part or medicine for an animal and cannot afford to be sold the wrong product. For this reason, it’s important that skills standards are up-to-date and address the unique context of the industry.

Much of rural merchandising is affected by radically evolving products and markets. A review and update of current qualifications and units will equip the future workforce with the skills it needs to remain competitive.

Project Scope

The aim of this project is to review the nationally-endorsed units of competency that align with the industry sectors associated with Rural Merchandising. The current project will review the Certificate III in Rural Merchandising and 12 units of competency covering sales and merchandising in rural products and industries.

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

Relevant Occupations

Examples of job roles that relate to this qualification include:

  • Rural merchandisers
  • Rural sales assistants

 

Project Team
Cathy BevenIndustry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impact cathy@skillsimpact.com.au
Andrew HorganIndustry Engagement Manager, Skills Impact  andrew@skillsimpact.com.au
Peter MillerIndustry Skills Standard Contractor

Timeline

The project will take approximately 12 months to be completed. A number of industry consultation workshops will be held across Australia after the initial SME workshop(s) have been completed.

July 2019
Initial scoping

August – mid September 2019
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

mid-September – mid October 2019
Drafts available for broad consultation

December 2019
Public Validation of final drafts

January – February 2020
Finalisation of Training Package components

June 2020
Submission for endorsement

Subject Matter Experts

Subject Matter Experts will be drawn on throughout this project to help review and draft the revised qualifications, skill sets and units. A Subject Matter Expert (SME) is identified by industry as a person with expert knowledge about how to complete particular tasks or jobs. SMEs are often identified during the project planning stage but may be included later in the project as necessary.

The input received from SMEs helps shape the AHC Training Package so that it meets industry needs and produces real-life job outcomes. Specifically, the input from an SME contributes to the project by:

  • ensuring current and future industry needs are addressed through qualifications;
  • identifying that the skills and knowledge for key job roles are reflected in units of competency;
  • identifying that core skills and knowledge are reflected in qualifications, while ensuring that qualifications can be contextualised through the selection of elective units of competency for different job role outcomes.

An SME will usually attend at least two face-to-face workshops, the location and dates for which will be determined by the project management team during the planning phase. SMEs will also be required to read and provide feedback on draft materials. This work will be undertaken on a voluntary basis. In total, approximately 25 hours will be required.

All reasonable out-of-pocket travel and accommodation expenses for members attending SME Working Group meetings will be met by Skills Impact as per its guidelines for travel and associated expenses.

If you are interested in applying to be a subject matter expert and are able to volunteer your time to this project, please email details of your expertise to cathy@skillsimpact.com.au

Opportunities for stakeholder input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in September 2019, and again for validation of final drafts in December 2019. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the qualifications, skill set and units. It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The qualifications, skill sets and units need to reflect real work experience. So if you work in the sector, Skills Impact would love your input and help. Please register your interest for project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link below. Alternatively, please feel free to contact the project manager, Cathy Beven on 03 9321 3526 or cathy@skillsimpact.com.au.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations during the development of this project to seek their involvement and their views on the draft qualifications, skill sets and units.

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please encourage them to contact the project team and/or direct them to this webpage.

Of course, all and any interested industry participants are encouraged to engage in the consultation of this project, when the draft qualifications, skill sets and units are available for feedback via this webpage and workshops that take place around Australia. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list. This list simply helps us to identify those organisations that, because of their industry role, size or specialty, are likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project.

Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project, as part of their responsibilities to support engagement with the sector, and to ensure projects meet industry stakeholder needs.

Development

Rural merchandising workers are usually the first point of contact for farmers looking to invest in machinery, technology and other services. Much of rural merchandising is affected by radically evolving products and markets. Rural merchandising workers need specialist knowledge to provide information about equipment, chemicals or other products so that farmers get the right item for the job.

Subject Matter Experts are currently being engaged to review the structure of the Certificate III in Rural Merchandising, which supports general merchandising operations and sales jobs in the industry. Feedback so far suggests that the Certificate III in Rural Merchandising requires significant changes to the structure of the qualification. The units of competency that make up this qualification need to be reviewed to reflect the current skilled work activities. The Subject Matter Expert Working Group also identified that the level IV AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework) units should be considered as part of the elective list of units in the qualification.

Consultation Workshops – Registrations Open!

A revised draft of the qualification and units will become available for broad consideration and feedback from mid-September to mid-October 2019 (under the ‘Drafts Available’ menu above). We welcome your feedback and advice on the draft skills standards in this time. Face-to-face consultation workshops will also take place across states and territories, with a webinar planned for those unable to attend in person. Registrations for these workshops are now open. Register for a workshop near you by clicking the corresponding link.

Face-to-face consultation workshops

Tues 17 Sept ‘19, 11.30am-1.30pm AEDT – Mildura – register here

Wed 25 Sept ’19, 11.30am-1.30pm ACST – Adelaide – register here

Thurs 26 Sept ’19, 11.30am-1.30pm AEDST – Sydney – register here

Tues 8 Oct ’19, 11.30am-1.30pm AEST – Brisbane – register here

Wed 9 Oct ’19, 11.30am-1.30pm AEST – Cairns – register here

Thurs 10 Oct ’19 11.30am-1.30pm AEDST – Melbourne – register here

Tue 15 Oct ’19, 11.30am-1.30pm ACST – Darwin – register here

Wed 16 Oct ’19, 11.30am-1.30pm AWST – Perth – register here

Consultation webinar

Mon 14 Oct ’19, 1.00pm–2.30pm AWST – Webinar – register here

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

 

Drafts Available

Rural merchandising is an essential part of Australia’s agricultural and horticultural landscape, providing products and services to farmers looking to invest in machinery, technology or other services. This work requires specific product knowledge, including of large expensive machinery and farming chemicals, in order to ensure farmers are getting the right product in a timely fashion.

The Certificate III in Rural Merchandising and units of competency within it have been reviewed to address these specialised skills and ensure they are relevant to current practices, markets and products.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on the draft units of competency and qualification that were made available on this webpage for feedback from 16 September – 20 October 2019. 

During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, eight face-to-face consultation workshops, one webinar, and email. The drafts, including any comments made on the feedback hub, are still available for viewing below.

Feedback will inform the work on the final drafts which are expected to be available for industry validation in December 2019. A summary of the feedback and how it was addressed in the final drafts will also be available.

This qualification is proposed to replace AHC32716 Certificate III in Rural Merchandising. The packaging rules have been amended to include 12 units (6 core, 6 electives), changing from 7 core and 5  electives. Some units that have been deleted on training.gov.au so have been removed.

AHC3XX20 Certificate III in Rural Merchandising

The draft document can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Proposed changes to the following units include:

  • Minor changes to application.
  • Minor edits to elements in some units and various changes and edits to Performance Criteria (PC).
  • Inclusion of foundation skills.
  • Assessment Requirements updated to include the frequency and or volume to performance evidence.
  • Minor edits to performance evidence and knowledge evidence in some units.
  • Specific conditions provided within the assessment conditions.
AHCMER301 Process customer complaintsView unit
AHCMER3XX Provide information on hardware productsView unit
AHCMER303 Sell products and servicesView unit
AHCMER304 Recommend irrigation products and servicesView unit
AHCMER401 Coordinate customer service and networking activitiesView unit
AHCMER402 Provide advice and sell machineryView unit
AHCMER403 Provide advice and sell farm chemicalsView unit
AHCMER404 Provide advice on agronomic productsView unit
AHCMER405 Provide advice on livestock productsView unit
AHCMER406 Provide information on fertilisers and soil ameliorantsView unit
AHCMER407 Provide irrigation sales and serviceView unit
AHCMER501 Develop a sales strategy for rural productsView unit

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Summary of consultation to date

The draft qualification and units have been drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts. They have considered feedback that was received out of Workforce Functional Analysis workshops in July. People working directly in the rural merchandising and sales industry participated and provided information on the skills and knowledge required for job roles and tasks. Thank you to those who provided feedback during these activities.

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

 

Validation

Australian agricultural and horticultural enterprises are dependent on the rural merchandising sector for providing access to the products and services they need. Working in this field requires specific product knowledge to provide farmers and horticulturalists with information about the products they wish to invest in, such as new technology, large expensive machinery, and farming chemicals.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on the final draft qualification and units of competency that were made available on this webpage for feedback from 20 December 2019 – 28 January 2020.

They have been revised to address the limitations of the old qualification, which industry felt no longer accurately described their job functions and the range of tasks that rural merchandisers and rural sales assistants are required to perform.

Final drafts of the qualification and units can be viewed in the lists below.

 

Summary of consultation to date

The units were drafted with guidance from Subject Matter Experts, made up of workplace experts and industry. Thank you to those stakeholders who provided feedback on the drafts that were made available from 16 September – 20 October 2019, under the ‘Drafts Available’ stage. During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, national face-to-face consultation workshops and webinars, and via phone call and email. Feedback that was received on the initial drafts was considered to redraft versions of these final drafts.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied in these final drafts can be downloaded below. Please click the ‘Download Summary of Feedback, Responses and Actions’ button.

Qualification code and nameProposed changes Link
AHC3XX20 Certificate III in Rural MerchandisingAmended packaging rules, new core and elective units.Download final draft qualification

 

  • General feedback received recommended recoding AHCMER (Merchandising) units to more specific industry sector descriptors, i.e. AHCBAC (Broad Acre Cropping), AHCCHM (Chemicals), AHCIRG (Irrigation), AHCLSK (Livestock), AHCMOM (Machinery operation and maintenance) and AHCSOL (Soil and media sector).

 Click here to download a zipped folder of all units in this group. 

Unit code and nameProposed changes Link
AHCBAC4XX Provide advice on agronomic productsRe-coded from AHCMER404 to AHCBAC (Broad Acre Cropping).Download final draft unit
AHCCHM4XX Provide advice and sell farm chemicalsRe-coded from AHCMER403 to AHCCHM (Chemicals). Changes also to Element 1 and Performance Criteria.Download final draft unit
AHCIRG3XX Recommend irrigation products and servicesRe-coded from AHCMER304 to AHCIRG (Irrigation).Download final draft unit
AHCIRG4XX Provide irrigation sales and serviceRe-coded from AHCMER407 to AHCIRG (Irrigation).Download final draft unit
AHCLSK4XX Provide advice on livestock productsRe-coded from AHCMER405 to AHCLSK (Livestock).Download final draft unit
AHCMER303 Sell products and servicesFeedback received about potential duplication with units in Retail Services Training Package. Subject Matter Expert (SME) Working Group advised this unit should be retained as it is significantly different to the Retail Services units.Download final draft unit
AHCMER3XX Provide information on hardware productsTitle changed from “Provide advice on hardware products” to “Provide information on hardware products”, and unit content updated to reflect this change.Download final draft unit
AHCMER401 Coordinate customer service and networking activitiesChanged element 2 to “Monitor and review customer service systems”. Changed Performance Criteria 1.3 to “Ensure customer service interactions…etc” and 2.5 to “Coordinate… to ensure customer service standards are met”. Removed 6th dot point in Performance Evidence.Download final draft unit
AHCMER501 Develop a sales strategy for rural productsReworded and quantified assessment requirements in Performance Evidence.Download final draft unit
AHCMOM4XX Provide advice and sell machineryUnit re-coded to AHCMOM (Machinery operation and maintenance).Download final draft unit
AHCSOL4XX Provide information on fertilisers and soil ameliorantsUnit re-coded from AHCMER406 to AHCSOL (Soil and media sector).Download final draft unit

 

Unit code and nameRationale 
AHCMER301 Process customer complaintsSME advice has indicated that this unit is a duplicate of BSBCMM301 Process customer complaints. It is therefore recommended for deletion, to be replaced in the qualification with BSBCMM301.View unit on training.gov.au

 

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

 

Finalisation

Rural merchandising workers provide vital support to Australian farmers and horticulturalists, facilitating the sale of products and services to keep agricultural and horticultural businesses efficient and economically viable. These workers offer specialist retail services for farmers looking to invest in machinery, technology and other services. Many farmers must drive for hours to purchase a replacement part or medicine for an animal and cannot afford to make a return trip due to the particular timelines of their work. Rural merchandisers have an important role to play in making sure farmers get the right product for the job. They require skills and knowledge to advise on farm specific equipment and chemicals, as well as the parts and warranties of different machines.

It is vital that skills standards for rural merchandising are regularly reviewed so that they are up to date with continuously evolving products and markets. Input from industry experts has informed the review of 11 units and one qualification in rural merchandising and the proposed deletion of one unit as it duplicates an existing and more relevant unit in another training package. Consultation focused on the practical and hands-on expertise required to put the merchandising and sales into practice, such as the skills and knowledge to research changes in farm machinery technology. They have been updated to better describe current job functions and tasks of rural merchandisers and rural sales assistants and to make them appropriate for use in current retail settings

Simon Treptow, General Manager at Irrigear has highlighted how the updated qualification can provide opportunities to those living outside of Australia’s major cities.

There are many talented people living outside Australia’s main cities, but sadly, all too often they migrate to capital cities seeking career opportunities and recognised training. The Rural Merchandising and Sales qualification offers businesses such as Irrigear’s member stores a chance to give their talented staff, opportunities to upskill and follow a career path that’s tailored to living outside the cities. Additionally, I feel the qualification uniquely provides generalist training for people that do not want to follow a specialised, technical path but for whom no alternative was previously available. I’m confident that many of Irrigear’s 70+ member stores will encourage their staff to pursue the qualification when it becomes available.

Another contributor to the project, Lisa Wallace of Central Regional TAFE Western Australia, has expressed support for the outcome of the project and the process to review the units and qualifications.

As an industry skills expert engaged from the beginning of the project, I have appreciated being able to consult both as an industry person and an assessor. Along with the Skills Impact team and other industry experts, it has been a process of information gathering, sorting, collating and reviewing, to ensure the qualification developed will meet industry needs… Though the uptake for this Qualification will be tested in our current climate, I am confident that, going forward, we have created a very applicable, useable and versatile qualification for our rural merchandising workers. I look forward to seeing the finished product available and for the opportunity to see the efforts pay off.

Key Outcomes
  • Updated  AHC32720 Certificate III in Rural Merchandising with amended packaging rules, and new core and elective units. It was identified that the current qualification has two units in the core that have been deleted on training.gov.au: BSBSLS402A Identify sales prospects (deleted 25 Mar 2015) and SIRXSLS303 Build relationships with customers (deleted 18 Apr 2016). The packaging rules have been adjusted to six core and six electives giving greater flexibility for register training organisations and employers.
  • Merchandising (AHCMER) units re-coded to reflect specific industry sector, i.e: AHCBAC (Broad Acre Cropping), AHCCHM (Chemicals), AHCIRG (Irrigation), AHCLSK (Livestock), AHCMOM (Machinery Operation and Maintenance) and AHCSOL (Soils and Media sector).
  • Proposed deletion of AHCMER301 Process customer complaints as it was identified as a duplicate of BSBCMM301 Process customer complaints.
Summary of consultation

The units, skill sets, and qualifications were developed with guidance from a group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), made up of industry experts. The broader industry were then consulted on the draft documents at two different stages – the ‘Drafts Available’ and ‘Validation’ stages.

Feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, eight consultation workshops, a webinar, phone calls and email.

A summary of feedback and how it was been considered and applied at the ‘Drafts Available’ and ‘Validation’ stages can be downloaded below.

 

The final draft units of competency and qualification have been submitted to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for endorsement, after which they will be forwarded to State and Territory Ministers. The drafts have undergone an edit and equity and independent quality assurance process and consideration by the State/Territory Training Authorities (STAs/TTAs).

A Case for Endorsement was submitted alongside the draft units and qualification, including a rationale of why these changes are needed and evidence of industry support. A Companion Volume Implementation Guide has also been produced to assist industry and registered training providers (RTOs) deliver the units, qualification and skill sets. It contains key information to help trainers adapt to the new changes, and additional information about the impacts of regulation and licensing implications and workplace health and safety on their training.

The submitted documents are available for download below.

Click here to download the Case for Endorsement

Click here to download the Companion Volume Implementation Guide Part 1

Click here to download the Companion Volume Implementation Guide Part 2

 

AHC32720 Certificate III in Rural MerchandisingDownload submitted qualification

 Click here to download a zipped folder of all units in this group. 

AHCBAC409 Provide advice on agronomic products
AHCCHM406 Provide advice and sell farm chemicals
AHCIRG349 Recommend irrigation products and services
AHCIRG446 Provide irrigation sales and service
AHCLSK420 Provide advice on livestock products
AHCMER305 Provide information on hardware products
AHCMER306 Sell products and services
AHCMER408 Coordinate customer service and networking activities
AHCMER502 Develop a sales strategy for rural products
AHCMOM403 Provide advice and sell machinery
AHCSOL405 Provide information on fertilisers and soil ameliorants

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.