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Primary ITO: Knowledge to grow

News & Features

Primary ITO to take a skills leadership role

12 April 2018

Primary ITO is welcoming plans by the Government to restore the skills leadership role of industry training organisations (ITOs). 

Primary ITO Chief Executive Dr Linda Sissons says, “the facts are that we do not have enough of the right people coming through to meet the needs of the primary industry. To make anything like the progress needed we have to turbocharge our investment in the human resource and capability development of our current and future workforce.”

Linda says “we can no longer continue to do the same things in the same way and this requires some adjustments in Government policy – such as reinstating the legislative mandate for ITOs to provide skills leadership for industries. For us, the starting point is always people – and the most important thing we can do is help them grow.”

Primary ITO is working on a number of future-focused initiatives to help change the landscape, says Linda. “These include developing flexible skills and qualifications such as Microcredentials – bite-sized learning which enables employees to learn effectively within the seasonal framework of their working schedules. We are also seeking to operate at higher levels than the current National Qualifications Framework allows and welcome the NZQA’s signal that it will review the situation. We are also currently working alongside a University to develop a much-needed work-integrated degree and providing workforce development plans for industries.” 

With the support and input of industry, Linda says Primary ITO is also finalising a series of in-depth workforce development plans for nine of their industries. At the same time, they have joined forces with NZ Young Farmers and Taratahi New Zealand, as the three largest school’s providers of curriculum and school to work pathways in the country.

“With them, we are working to lift the image and sell what it means to have a job in the primary sector. It’s such a diverse and exciting industry which includes involves New Zealand’s fantastic food, wine, health, creativity, science and biodiversity,” says Linda. 

Primary ITO is also providing support for better workforce investment in recognition that for individual farmers and orchard owners, the business of taking on trainees and ensuring their training flows through effectively is a huge burden in a volatile industry facing daily climate and market pressures. This will take many forms including enhanced Literacy and Numeracy diagnosis and mentoring; and administrative services for employers hiring apprentices.    

“We gratefully acknowledge assistance already received from MBIE and MSD to support the setting-up of a farmer-based administration service for apprenticeship management and the momentum this collaborative approach can achieve.

“Our sector needs smart, tech savvy, ambitious and innovative people as we work towards the Government’s target of doubling the value of our primary sector exports by 2025,” adds Linda.