Primary sector seeks top students
Primary industry representatives say the best young people are needed by the sector if New Zealand is to be prepared for future growth.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy was in Palmerston North yesterday to launch the The Future capability needs for the primary industries in New Zealand report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the sector.
About 30 people, including ministry staff, beef and lamb representatives, researchers, tertiary education providers, and people from the dairy, horticultural, forestry and fishing sectors were at the Bio Commerce Centre for the launch.
"The report highlights that employment in the primary industries is expected to increase by 50,000 by 2025 to reach the Government's goal of doubling of exports. Over half of these workers will need a Tertiary or Level 4 Qualification," Guy said.
He said the brightest secondary students needed to come into the primary industry.
"New Zealand needs people such as robotic engineers, food scientists, consultants and advisers. It is becoming more of technological-based approach, so we will need greater skills in the future."
Guy said primary industries made up about 70 per cent of all exports and one in six jobs in New Zealand was attributed to the primary industries.
The report found that primary industries would remain a major source of employment, especially in the regions. In some regions, such as Gisborne, Tasman, Marlborough and Southland, they account for nearly one in every three jobs.
Beef and Lamb director Kirsten Bryant said it was about making the sheep and beef industry attractive, so that young people saw it as an opportunity.
"I am a passionate sheep and beef farmer and we need to attract and train bright, young people."
She said town and country connections were gone, with few town and city children spending time on farms. "For the next generation to join us, we need to give them something they want to be part of."
Bryant said the ‘Get Ahead' programme, which showed secondary pupils the "wealth of jobs" available, was working.
"There were ten days around the country, and 1029 pupils came along and had a hands-on experience."
HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock said the horticultural industry recognised it needed scientists, technical experts, technically savvy growers, talented marketers and leaders that could innovate and inspire people.
Guy said: "As international markets become more sophisticated and competitive, it is crucial New Zealand's primary industries keep pace.
"The new primary sector vocational pathway at senior secondary level, the new combined primary sector ITO, the EPIC challenge, and dedicated primary sector institutions like Lincoln, Massey, Taratahi and Telford will all play a part alongside the industry in achieving this.
"It is a good example of how Government and industry can work together to support the growth of the sector and promote it to the next generation."
The report was funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand with support from primary industry representatives.