New course set to to bring South Canterbury students a step closer to food processing
It's hoped a new specialist qualification being launched in Timaru will help open the eyes of youngsters looking to join the food processing sector.
On Monday Aoraki Development chief executive Nigel Davenport announced that from the start of next year, Ara Institute of Canterbury would be running a new Introduction to Food Processing programme.
Davenport said the the year-long course had been created as a result of discussions between Ara and the Food Processing and Manufacturing Business Connection Group, established by Aoraki Development, that represented 5000 of the district's 25,000 strong workforce.
"These businesses told us that they want to get more youth involved in their businesses, so we sat them down with Ara and as a result this focussed course was designed, which provides the key skills and knowledge that the industry are looking for," he said.
"It's hugely important that we have a collaborative approach between business and education so we are providing clear pathways into local business and industry for our youth."
Sandford Timaru site manager Grant Day said the qualification would hopefully better inform young people about working in the food industry.
"It's going to mean we will have applicants that are understanding of the food industry and what they are getting themselves into.
"They can come in with their eyes open rather than half shut."
Davenport said the course would be run as a dual pathways programme, where students spent four days each week at school completing their NCEA studies, and one day per week completing the Level Two course.
Enrolments were now open with the course set to start in February 2018, he said.
The programme would include work experience to help students explore the variety of opportunities within the sector, and how they could progress through study and career pathways.
The course also dovetailed with the Youth Transition Initiative, announced in June, which aimed to bring schools and businesses together by linking education with vocational job opportunities, Davenport said.
Using guest speakers, industry expos and sector days, where different businesses would invite students, teachers and parents onto their premises, the initiative was designed to improve students' understanding of the jobs available throughout the district.
Day said the new qualification would mean those looking to work in the sector were better prepared.
"Rather than coming into the factory cold, they [applicants] get a bit of a feel for what it's all about, what it means to be part of the food industry ... the food processing requirements and good practices.
"If there's young people here that want to stay here in Timaru we can provide them with with work, we want young people to come and work for us."
Ara acting chief executive Darren Mitchell agreed that a collaborative approach will bring about the best results.
"We value the partnership with Aoraki Development, local businesses and schools because it enables us to deliver programmes that are the most relevant to nurturing regional growth."
Barkers chief executive Justin Riley said he was "delighted" to see the programme "hit the ground in such short time".
"Growing and processing value-added food is what we're good at in South Canterbury… really good.
"This programme will allow more of our young talent access to this exciting growing area of our economy."