Mentoring inspires trainees for learner success

23 June 2022

Cambridge Dairy Farmer and mentor Chante Crabb loves helping others develop a passion for working in agriculture and achieving their goals.

Chante is a volunteer on the Primary ITO Mentoring Programme, where she sits alongside trainees who often struggle to complete the theory part of their qualification.  

She is well placed to support others with over 20 years of farming experience, starting out her career on a sheep and beef farm. She has completed training courses, including the New Zealand Certificate in Primary Industry Production Management (Level 5) Dairy Farming.

The trainees I help often did not do well at school and struggled with reading and writing, making them feel they are not capable. By sitting with them, I take the time to help them understand what is required, talk through how to form relationships with their Training Adviser, co-workers, and employer, and give them the confidence to be able to ask questions.

“It is most satisfying seeing the learners achieve their goals and move forward in the industry and has given them a confidence boost across all aspects of life”  

Chante feels immensely proud to see their success and regularly checks in with her previous learners to see how they are getting on. “I like to see them grow as individuals, engage with their community, and come out of their shells”. 

The Primary ITO Mentoring Programme is looking for mentors who can give around an hour a fortnight to help learners complete their study bookwork. 

Since 2012 the programme has assisted over 500 trainees to progress their studies and achieve a qualification while working. 

Primary ITO Learning Support Team Leader Mel Weston says literacy and numeracy issues affect 50 per cent of the primary sector workforce. This impacts on people being able to do their jobs effectively, achieve qualifications they need in their roles, or being able to progress to the next level. 

Learners complete the practical study component in their workplace and are required to complete the theory part in their own time. 

Mel says that’s where many learners struggle. “Most learners who need assistance are impacted by varying barriers including having literacy issues, dyslexia, having struggled at school or due to being out of school for a long time and can find it challenging with getting back into a classroom setting”. These factors have affected their learning, their confidence and sometimes their motivation.”  

Under the mentoring programme, they are buddied up with a mentor who can help organise, motivate, and support them to complete the paperwork. Mentors support mentees one-on-one or in groups in person on study nights or online. 

Mel says that “learners usually know the answers and what they want to say, but it escapes them before they can write it all down or struggle with a question being asked”

A mentor assists by rephrasing a question in a way that is best suited to a learner so that they can write down their answer.

Many learners share that without the support of their mentor, they would not have completed their apprenticeship and progressed in their careers. 

Mentors come from all walks of life and are people that enjoy helping others and want to volunteer their time to give back. There are retired people from various backgrounds, literacy and numeracy specialists, rural professionals, accountants, consultants, bankers, and Primary ITO graduates. 

Visit our Learner Support page to learn more.