Farmers thrive with financial support for training and apprenticeships

24 September 2021

In the Hawke’s Bay, financial support for training fees and apprenticeship costs is making a big difference on farms.

Until the end of 2022, the Government is supporting the fees of agricultural training as well as making an “Apprenticeship Boost” payment available to employers with first and second-year apprentices. Together these mean farm workers get the opportunity to train on the job and gain a qualification without costs becoming a barrier.

Hawke’s Bay farmer Robert Pattullo has supported several of his staff to do apprenticeships through the Primary ITO over the past 10 years but says the fees support and Apprenticeship Boost makes it even easier.

Robert owns Newstead Farm, a large beef finishing operation on coastal hill country at Puketapu near Napier.

He’s jumped at the opportunity to enrol his two team members into a Primary ITO apprenticeship. “It makes it so easy to have an extra person on board.”

Assistant farm manager Chloe Butcher-Herries has completed Level 3 Pastoral Livestock Production and is now studying at Level 4, while shepherd general Callum Jones is studying Level 3.

“I’m a big supporter of encouraging them to learn more skills and gain a qualification. It is a contribution to the sector and it gives them the opportunity to develop and move up to other jobs.”

Apprentice stories

Chloe always knew she wanted to go farming and after 10 years working in both the beef and dairy industries she’s adding to her skills with an apprenticeship.

She spent the weekends of her teenage years at her uncle’s sheep and beef farm, learning the ropes, before taking a job there when she left school at 16. Always eager to learn more, a few years later Chloe made a move to the dairy industry.

“Going to dairy was the best thing I ever did. I learnt so much about growing feed, animal husbandry and health, and also rotation which many sheep and beef operations don’t do.”

Five years later she returned to the beef industry at Newstead Farm. “I missed the dog work. I love mustering and having a team of dogs and having that variety of things to do throughout the day with sheep and beef.”

When the Government’s “Free Trades Training” support was announced following Covid-19 back in 2020, Chloe was encouraged to sign up.

Study grows confidence and opportunities

Chloe says she has learnt how her work contributes to the wider industry. “I wanted to learn the bigger picture of where we fit in and what we are trying to achieve. Learning the context behind why we do things will improve our results.

“There is a lot more to just moving stock for example. It’s why we do that a certain way that’s important.”

Callum is shared between three employers, Newstead, beef stud Rissington and Apley, predominantly a sheep farm.

He says through the study he’s learnt how to make better decisions on growing and utilising pasture by using tools like sward sticks and the FeedSmart App.

“I have always just made decisions by looking at grass. Having the tools to assess the grass will definitely improve the results you get from the pasture and your stock.”

Callum’s also learning about water reticulation, key to any farm operation, and enjoyed an exercise where students had to map out and assess the water systems on their properties.

Both Chloe and Callum say the study has given them more confidence and opened them to other learning, with a new appreciation for information they are picking up at events like monitor farm field days.

“I can now go to a field day and listen to the presentations and know what they are talking about because of what I have learnt in class,” says Chloe.

Callum says he loves seeing how other farmers operate. “Especially a farm that is doing really well. I’ve learnt things that I didn’t know like growing pines and how to achieve credits on the Emissions Trading Scheme.”

“It is definitely motivating and inspiring to be learning from others and have this opportunity.”

Encouraging others into apprenticeships

Both Callum and Chloe encourage other farm workers and employers to grab the training opportunities through Primary ITO. They both began study after working on farms for many years.

“It’s never too late to start learning. I’d say get amongst it and don’t be shy because everyone in the classroom is there to learn and feed off each other,” says Chloe.

“Just go for it as it will help you out a lot. I have been in farming eight years, and I am learning a lot. If you get in young you could be a manager in five years,” says Callum.

They are both very grateful for the support of Robert and Callum’s other employers who encourage their learning.

Chloe says she encourages other farmers to consider putting their staff forward to study. “They will benefit 100 percent.”

Chloe says meeting other students also adds to the learning. “It enables you to build networks and learn from each other and be exposed to new ideas. You can meet friends for life.”

Callum says his next step is to study at Level 4 and he’s keen to learn more about finances and budgeting, in Level 5, with a view to becoming a manager and owning his own farm one day.

Chloe plans to do the Level 5 Diploma in Agribusiness Management in 2022. “I don’t think there is anything better than keeping on learning and I can’t rate Primary ITO highly enough. The teachers have been farmers and make it a positive learning environment.”

Robert says the study validates the work that his team are doing on-farm, and he enjoys seeing their progression and success, with former Newstead learners going on to be stock and farm managers.

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