South Canterbury educators to share knowledge on jobs available in food processing
In an attempt to tackle the ongoing skill shortage issue, South Canterbury educators toured some of the region's food processing plants - among them some of the biggest employers in the region.
The skills shortage was brought to light in the South Canterbury Labour Market Survey in mid 2016.
Since then, Aoraki Development has set up business connection groups to tackle industry related issues, share concerns and help identify gaps in industry.
The recently launched Youth Transition Initiative connects businesses with schools teachers and students, Aoraki Development chief executive Nigel Davenport said.
Members of the Food Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) Business Connection Group recognised the need to share their story with the youths in SC, and engaged with the initiative.
"[FP&M] have a real desire to retain our youth in the region," Davenport said.
FP&M was the largest employer in the region, accounting for nearly 5000 of the 25,000 local workforce, he said.
Aoraki Development and Ara Institute of Canterbury organised a Food Processing Sector Day, which saw more than 40 South Canterbury educators from secondary schools, the YMCA and Community College take a tour of some of the businesses including Sandford, DB, McCain's and Fonterra.
Sanford site manager Grant Day acknowledged recruitment and retention remained an issue for operations such as his: "It's not a sexy industry."
The region's primary industries were all competing for the same people. At the same time, job seekers were often unaware of what was on offer.
Sanford was a good business to work for, and there were a wide range of roles people could start out in, as well as the ability for them to upskill, he said.
Timaru Boys' High School teacher Lynda Paul said the site visits were excellent.
"It is really informative for us as teachers, we'll be able to take this back to our students."
Paul was pleased to see family values were a part of the industry's ethos.
Opihi College teacher Ashley Herbert said some of her students thought there was nothing out there for them.
"They think they're not capable of doing anything."
There was huge value to the day in terms of her being able to go back and share with her students what she had seen, and what opportunities were out there, she said.
Aoraki Development workforce initiative project manager Ginny Vincent said it was the first time the event had been run.
"I think the biggest thing that's been identified by the businesses is promoting their business and career opportunities to young people."
The purpose of the day was to expose, education and excite the educators, who would then be able to contextualise what they had seen into their curriculum.
Ara youth and community development Mark Simons said the visits gave the educators the chance to explore the physical operation, as well as the employment opportunities an career pathways that each business could offer.
Students will have a similar tour on August 24.