Tuesday, 21 December 2021 14:25

Farming options abound

Written by  Staff Reporters
Growing Future Farmers general manager Cyn Smith. Photo Supplied. Growing Future Farmers general manager Cyn Smith. Photo Supplied.

The world is the oyster of those who choose to be part of an industry that contributes to the most important thing in the world - sustainably produced food.

Lincoln University Adjunct Professor Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Growing Future Farmers general manager Cyn Smith and Napier Boys' High School head of agriculture Rex Newman all say there is plenty to encourage a new generation into farming now with good cadet schemes, training partners and opportunity to help them achieve their best.

A panel, including Jacqueline, Rex and a representative from GFF will be joined by youngsters who are forging their way in the industry for an on-stage discussion as part of a seminar programme at the East Coast Farming Expo in February.

Rowarth says choosing a career in agriculture brings with it the ability to make a difference.

Plants, animals, soils, computers, mechanics, driving trucks or tankers, or research in the lab, sorting trade deals, creating policies, or even marketing, media and advertising taking New Zealand's superb product to the world - there is so much choice.

Rowarth says the industry is always keen to welcome motivated people into the fold.

The industry sometimes suffered through a lack of desire by people not recognising agriculture as an engaging career path.

"They don't want to come so the challenge is great," she says. "If the world is your oyster, why would you want to come into an industry that is regarded by a vocal subset of society as environmental destroyers?"

She would love to see the Government take a lead and ensure the media give more airtime to supporting the farmers and growers who create the economy, than they give to activists.

Rowarth sees plenty of value in the many cadet schemes run across New Zealand.

"The on-farm work, immersion training and the people they meet bring much to the table."

Growing Future Farmers is an initiative driven by Gisborne couple Dan and Tam Jex-Blake that seeks to meet the critical skill shortage in farming through a programme that creates a career pathway for students keen to work in the beef, lamb and deer sector.

Each student is taken on a fees-free two-year course that will see them gain entry level essential farm skills, followed by advanced skills and then into business management, leaving with NZQA level three qualifications.

Students are paid weekly, so graduate with no student loans, and at the end of their two years will also have two trained dogs at their sides.

One of the key components is the wrap around pastoral care the programme offers students.

Cyn Smith is the GFF general manager and says one of the biggest positives with the programme is that it is employer-driven but industry-backed.

“There are so many opportunities within the industry – from agricultural service industries like fencing, shearing, machinery operation and more, to shepherding, or being a stock manager,” says Smith.

There was certainly something for everyone.

“Due to current shortages of qualified staff in the sector, employment opportunities can sometimes lure students to work before training adequately qualifying themselves long term.”

GFF was just one of many cadet schemes and programmes available.

She felt government needed to do more.

“Their support is for the formal tertiary qualifications, but beyond this there are many areas requiring support as young people transition from school into careers. Funding rural training in remote areas needs to address issues of wellbeing, demographics and costs associated with delivery in these settings.”

Smith believes the current Targeted Training Apprenticeship Fund had been essential in vocational training and needed to continue.

Napier Boys’ High School head of agriculture Rex Newman figures there is more opportunity in agriculture now than ever before, with a wide range of choices for anyone moving into the industry.

He worked in the industry before moving to teaching and says it is a far cry from those days.

Newman says the opportunities are vast and he is seeing more and more keen to move into the industry.

What: East Coast Farming Expo

When: February 23-23, 2022

Where: Wairoa A&P Showgrounds

More Info: www.eastcoastexpo.co.nz

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