In a bid to attract young people to the industry, Oak Flats High School students were invited to tour a robotic dairy farm.
From laser pointed milking robots to data-collecting cow collars, students were dazzled by the innovative technology at the farm in Pyree, south of Nowra.
"We try to encourage our kids to go into agriculture as a job [but] it's so far away as we live in a regional area rather than an agricultural area," Oak Flats High School teacher, Vanessa Telfer said.
"So, having access to see what the environment entails has really put them in a great mood and made them further think about their opportunities."
Farm hand and herd manager Tori Brindle Mansell joined Chittick Dairy Farm as part of a university placement where she was studying robotics.
She hopes more young people will join the industry like her younger sister that joined after graduating from high school last year.
"She had zero experience, I had zero experience when I started and we learned," Mrs Brindle Mansell said.
"She's doing it all hands-on, working on the job, learning on the job, and doing her TAFE course."
Mrs Brindle Mansell said the skills shortages in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven are "extreme".
"There's farmers that are working seven days a week because they can't get labor units," Mrs Brindle Mansell said.
"There's farmers all throughout the Shoalhaven that need workers at the moment."
Dairy NSW's workforce attraction and retention officer Tania Ketteringham agrees there is a shortage and is encouraging farmers to hire people as trainees while they complete their qualifications.
"Most farmers are experiencing skill shortages, so that's why we're working really closely with them to encourage new entrance and to develop pre-employment programs for example and training opportunities," Tania Ketteringham said.
Oak Flats High School students took a tour of the Chittick Dairy Farm to watch the robots milk the cows by using lasers to locate the teets.
Year 11 student Matilda Forsyth was impressed by their cow collars that collects real-time data about each individual cow.
"The machine knows if they've been fed or if they haven't from the collars they use," Ms Forsyth said.
By testing the milk of each cow the farm can collect data like the cows' age, how much protein and fats are in their milk, how much milk they're producing, when they're in heat and whether they have a bacterial infection and shouldn't be milked.
The 16-year-old was also impressed that the dairy cows didn't need to be herded for milking, they knew exactly when and where to go.
"All the cows just know what time's to go in and they go in three times a day ... they all just walk in by themselves and then they walk out by themselves," she said.
The school excursion is part of the Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) program that connects industries to high school students across NSW.
Dairy NSW encourages students to look at school based traineeships where they can work on a farm one day a week and complete a certificate in agriculture while attending high school.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.