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Dairy needs 1000 graduates a year


Actions are well underway in the dairy sector to meet the skills shortage challenge highlighted in the report released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The People Powered report, produced by MPI in partnership with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, forecasts the future capability requirements of the primary industries.

The dairy workforce is expected to expand by 2300 workers by 2025, and the number of workers needed with a formal qualification is forecast to increase by 8300.

“It’s not just the numbers that will challenge us but the big lift in skill levels that we’ll need to achieve to drive our sector forward,” says DairyNZ chairman, John Luxton.

He says there will be a growing need for rural and service professionals in the sector, with sales jobs expected to increase by more than 20 percent by 2025 and another 1300 jobs processing jobs being forecast for the sector too.

“What’s new in this report is the evidence of a big lift coming in employment in the agribusiness service sector and the processing side of dairy. The qualifications most in demand are likely to be in the agriculture, environment, engineering, management and commerce fields of study. We’ll need about a thousand graduates a year coming into the industry,” he says.

“We are all working together across the sector to attract, develop and retain highly skilled and motivated people.  We know that also means we need to provide a world-class work environment, particularly on-farm but also across the sector.”

John Luxton says DairyNZ is working at both the demand and supply side to ensure there are good career opportunities in the dairy industry as well as quality education and training. “One of the many issues facing the dairy industry and the wider agricultural sector has been a failure to maintain its mainstream appeal. We’ve really got to turn that around.”

Amongst initiatives under way in the dairy industry to meet the workforce challenge are:- 

  • Delivering Get Ahead resources and events to secondary schools, career advisers and school principals in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand 
  • A scholarship programme for undergraduates studying for agricultural degrees at Lincoln and Massey Universities and an internship programme to attract university graduates and integrate them into the DairyNZ and AgResearch staff development programmes 
  • Support for primary industry training including apprenticeships and business planning and staff management 
  • Supporting a joint graduate school in dairy research and innovation at the University of Auckland spanning genetics, agricultural technology, and environmental science and food science and business
  • Running progression groups that support progressive farmers with their career plans
  • A DairyNZ PeopleSmart programme with tools and guidelines to support farmers to adopt best employment practices

John Luxton says the dairy industry has set some ambitious targets for in the people and workforce area.

 “By 2020 we want 90 percent of dairy farm businesses to have fully competent farm teams and for all dairy regions to have sufficient certified rural professionals such as veterinarians, farm management consultants, and irrigation and effluent specialists.”

A copy of a summary of the report can be found at - www.mpi.govt.nz/future_capability

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