One of Primary ITO’s most successful nursery production students has now become a training assessor, supporting his colleagues to improve their skills and launch rewarding careers of their own.
In 2016 Daniel Howard became one of the youngest ever winners of the New Zealand Nursery & Garden Industry Association’s Young Achiever Award – something he modestly admits was “a pretty big achievement”.
As Production Manager at Moores Valley Nurseries in Levin, he helps grow over 2000 different species of native and exotic trees, shrubs and perennials before they’re on-sold to the public. Daniel’s impressive journey began with an apprenticeship where he received on-the-job training and studied part-time with Primary ITO.
Over two years he completed National Certificates in Horticulture (Nursery Production) Advanced Level 4, and Amenity Horticulture, before going on to complete a Diploma in Horticulture via correspondence with Otago Polytechnic.
Now aged 22, he’s switched from student to teacher to help train and asses two of his staff members who are undertaking Primary ITO nursery production qualifications.
“It’s good to be able to share what I’ve learnt, pass it on and watch other people progress through their study,” Daniel says.
“I go through their units with them and demonstrate the practical component of it, and train them up to a high standard along the way.”
Pest and disease identification and care for nursery crops have been key topics which Daniel has focussed on, as they’re both critical aspects of Moores Valley Nurseries’ business.
“During their study they take a plant from propagation right through to a saleable product, monitoring it along the way. They end up producing multiple crops by themselves which is great for the nursery and their own skills and confidence.”
Daniel says the nursery production sector needs more skilled workers, particularly young people, to fill the wide range of jobs available nationwide. “Nurseries often specialise in different crops and areas of expertise so there’s a diverse range of jobs. Some specialise in growing plants in containers, others focus on growing outdoors or producing seedlings.”
“It’s an ongoing challenge to find and maintain a skilled workforce. We need to inform more young people about the possibilities and encourage them.”
Daniel says he would definitely recommend nursery workers study part-time while working in the industry. He himself is looking to take on another challenge in 2018.
“I want to develop my knowledge around the business side of a nursery so I’m looking at starting Primary ITO’s Agribusiness Diploma next year.”
“I don’t mind doing more part-time study. It’s certainly knowledge I can use. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, there’s always something new to learn in nursery production.”