22 Aug 2016

Thousands needed to fill primary industry jobs

2:46 pm on 22 August 2016

The primary sector is turning to cities to promote jobs in the industry in an effort to create a more qualified workforce.

Tractor, hay bales on farm (stock photo)

By 2025 a third of jobs in the dairy industry won't be tied to the land. Photo: 123rf

Research commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand has found the industry will need another 2300 people by 2025, on top of the 23,400 needed to replace natural attrition.

There is a growing divide between rural and urban New Zealand, with 36 percent of all secondary students based in Auckland, and just 30 percent spread through rural areas.

New Zealand Young Farmers president Terry Copeland said by 2025 a third of jobs in the dairy industry would not be tied to the land.

"It's not just simply being out in gumboots milking cows in the morning, there are so many jobs that support the dairy industry.

"We need talented people who are doing engineering or marketing or sciences to support those people who do want to work on farm, and take advantage of the new technology that is available on farm."

Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) chief executive Andy Sommerville said one of the main challenges was the perception that farming support roles were all on farms and involved getting your hands dirty.

Mr Sommerville said the government was working to narrow the gap between rural and urban with its brand 'Growing NZ', and held a teacher conference with all of the new secondary school science teachers.

"We presented to them four young people who work in the primary industries, a couple of them were dairy related, and they worked beyond the farm gate. The message to the teachers was there are opportunities in primary industries that you might not have considered to be primary industries.

"You could be working in research, you could be working in dairy science, you could be working in arable where you are helping understand new ways of cultivating or planting."

PICA has commissioned further research with Agmardt and Colmar Brunton to try and unpick the triggers that get people into primary industry roles.