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Primary ITO: Knowledge to grow

News & Features

Learning dairy on-farm key to success

12 February 2021

20210211 Celebrating Trusted Advisers Campaign Southland Website image

Accountants, bankers and chefs are now among the people looking for dairy training supported by Dani Low.  

The Primary ITO training adviser says over the past year, the career changers have joined school leavers and young people looking to make a start in the dairy industry. She’s now working with employers to offer their new employees training and support to change careers in the wake of the economic reshuffle from Covid-19. 

“They all seem to be really enjoying it,” Dani says. 

It is seeing her students enjoy what they do and progress through the dairy industry that really drives her. 

“I love seeing people get excited about their career progression and seeing them through to the end.” 

This “end” is contract or sharemilking or other senior roles within the dairy industry, all of which require people with a wide skill and knowledge base. Primary ITO’s programmes are designed to build people’s skills and knowledge at the same time as they are working in the industry. Dani’s role is to support and nurture their on-farm and in-class learning while working alongside both the employer and employee to identify their respective needs. 

One of Dani’s star pupils was a city girl who started out knowing nothing about the dairy industry but is now a contract milker, having worked her way up the ladder, gaining Primary ITO qualifications along the way. 
Dani’s work is solely focused on building people capability in the dairy industry in the south-west Southland region. 

Born and bred in Southland, she knows both the area and the industry well and is eager to help people succeed within it.  

Dani has been in her Primary ITO Training Adviser role for six years. Most of her time is spent on the road, visiting farms, signing up learners, checking in with her trainees and helping them with setting goals and ensuring they are on track with their book work. 

She also meets with employers on every farm visit. 

“It’s important when we are goal setting that it’s based on what the employer wants the trainee to learn, so we work together to identify skill gaps and help fill them.” 

Dairy farms are busy places, particularly over spring, and Dani says one of the challenges of her job is getting learners to re-engage with their programme work after they have been immersed in the physical side of the job. 

As well as checking in on them, she uses social media to help people keep focused on their programmes and the wider dairy industry. She also plans study nights to ensure time is set aside for dedicated study. 

Dani says it’s about adapting to people’s circumstances to engage and encourage them. 

As she says, most trainees are really keen to learn and to achieve their learning and personal goals and Primary ITO is working on ways to make learning accessible to as many people as possible. 

This includes practically focused programmes, seasonal forums and going online. 

“We’re very aware of the challenges,” says Dani. 

Primary ITO is an integral part of Esmeralda Duffin’s Southland dairy business. The contract milker milks 1300 cows across two dairy farms. She has been using Primary ITO since 2012 and Dani has been their Training Adviser for a long time. 

“We’ve had a relationship with Dani for five years now and she knows exactly how we operate. It’s great when you’re dealing with someone who understands your business so well.” 

As well as continuing her own study through Primary ITO, five of Esmeralda’s six staff are undertaking various programmes, growing their skills and meeting new people at the off-farm classes. 

“It’s an opportunity for our staff to get off-farm, connect with other people and, through farm visits, to see how other farms operate. They are able to pick up valuable skills which they bring back to the farm.  

“They are excited to share their knowledge which helps lift morale and they also have the opportunity to then apply those skills back on-farm,” says Esmeralda. 

Because all staff are doing slightly different programmes, they are able to share what they have each learned within the team. 

Esmeralda says Dani visits the farm three to four times a year and sits down with all staff at the same time to discuss their needs. She will then advise them about what learning would meet their needs. 

From there she will monitor and guide the learners and will meet with them regularly throughout their programme. She also stays in touch with Esmeralda to iron out any issues. 

The staff need to be able to work across both dairy farms, so they need to be applying their farming skills to two different operations within Esmeralda’s business. 

As of 1 July 2020, the Government is covering training fees until 31 December 2022, so there’s never been a better time to connect with Dani. Phone 027 229 9988 or email dani.low@primaryito.ac.nz