“I’ll stay here in the industry because I have learnt so much.”

23 August 2023

King Country farm hand Amber Murch is set to continue her career in the pork industry after having an opportunity to gain a Te Pūkenga | Primary ITO qualification while working on the job.

Amber started working at pork producer Waratah Farm in south Waikato in 2021 with no previous experience in farming, but with her new learnings on board she wants to continue and progress.

Working in the farrowing area raising piglets, Amber quickly learnt the routines in the early months of her employment.

After a year, Operations Manager Stuart Shaw, offered Amber and two colleagues the opportunity to enrol in the New Zealand Certificate in Pork Production Level 3 with Primary ITO. Alexandra Shaw, also in the farrowing department, and Planning and Compliance Manager Dana Rich enrolled at the same time.

Level 3 Pork Production covers a range of topics including animal health, care and hygiene, feeding, effluent management, and breeding and production.

Stuart says having the opportunity to train staff on the job is very important to the Waratah Farm operation. “It gives our team a better understanding of what they are doing and why. They retain what they have learnt, build confidence and progress in their jobs.”

The learning has allowed Alexandra to become a team leader after working three years in the piggery, and Amber is also set for promotion. Stuart says Dana is now able to manage tasks that required his input prior to the learning.

Training also allows Waratah Farms to address a skills shortage in the pork industry. “There aren’t many experienced people out there. This provides a good solution and the Primary ITO training fits with our philosophy to train our staff correctly and care for our herd well.”

Amber says the learning has extended her capabilities and grown her confidence. “I feel I can do anything in farrowing now because I have learnt so much. It makes it more enjoyable going to work knowing I have more knowledge.”

Primary ITO Training Adviser Virginia Tocher says the Pork Level 3 programme gives ākonga (learners) a deeper understanding of pig anatomy and physiology, animal health, production, and the wider farm operation.

As well as understanding their daily tasks better, there’s potential for learners to take on more responsibility in their roles and progress, she says. “The key thing is that almost all of the learning is on-farm with only a few days required for off-farm classes spread over the 13-month programme.”

Ākonga have learning sessions during work hours and complete their paperwork after work. All three are due to celebrate completing their certificates 18 months after beginning the programme in 2022.

Amber encourages others in the industry to take the opportunity to learn and gain a qualification while they are working. “Especially if they don’t know much to begin with, this is a good opportunity to learn a lot.”

Virginia Tocher agrees. “What we see is that learners who have a little bit of support from managers and owners who encourage them to learn on the job, not only upskill but tend to stay in their job longer, and the industry benefits as a whole.”

To learn more about the New Zealand Certificate in Pork Production (Level 3) click here.

Contact your local pork Training Adviser on 0800 20 80 20, email [email protected] or click here.