Secondary schools funding announcement good for primary sector

16 June 2020

The Government’s announcement of more school-based trades training is a great opportunity to attract promising learners into farming, horticulture, and the wider food and fibre industries, Primary ITO chief executive Nigel Philpott says.

As part of its trades and apprenticeships training package, the Government announced $32.3 million extra for Trades Academies, and 1000 more Trades Academy places in secondary schools.

Primary ITO has over 1000 learners already in its Trades Academy, says Mr Philpott. “At the moment, we have the largest Trades Academy in New Zealand but we know more schools and more students want to take part.

“If more students have the chance to experience the career possibilities of farming and horticulture while they’re at school, they are even more likely to then take advantage of the free industry training and apprenticeships that are also on offer, and go on to be the industry leaders of the future.”

This year, 90 secondary schools are taking part in Primary ITO’s Trades Academy. Alongside the Trades Academy funding, the Government has announced free fees for apprenticeships and industry training across the primary sector, as well as food and fibre processing.

Mr Philpott says creating pathways for people into the sector is important. “Paying for training is one part of the package. For a long time, our industries have been crying out for skilled people, and we believe that the cost of training has been a barrier.

“We are particularly pleased to see that, unlike the Fees Free programme, this will provide free training to people in our industries, irrespective of whether or not they've previously done tertiary study.

“At a time when we all want to see people transitioning from other industries to primary sector careers, this will provide an enormous incentive for people to make the move and then train with the best possible skills.”

Primary ITO is the industry training organisation responsible for setting standards and arranging training across agriculture, horticulture, sports turf, equine, dairy manufacturing, seafood and meat processing, as well as petrochemical, energy and chemical plant, and more.

New Primary ITO Board chair Bruce Wills was appointed last month and says the free primary sector training on offer will be an important factor in New Zealand’s economic recovery following Covid-19.

“We know that people in other sectors are looking to our industries for a change of career. Ensuring that when they come on board they can choose a clear training and career pathway will be critical to making that career a fulfilling one.”

Mr Wills is based in Hawke’s Bay where he farms sheep and cattle, and grows grapes and olives. He is a past National President of Federated Farmers and has a range of other governance roles.

As well as Mr Wills, Seafood NZ’s Cathy Webb and Bay of Plenty farmer Rick Powdrell have also joined the Primary ITO Board.