Saturday, April 20, 2024

MPI initiative boosts job placements

Neal Wallace
More than 5000 New Zealanders have found work in food and fibre sector jobs in the past year through the Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) Primary Sector Workforce programme.
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MPI director of investment skills and performance Cheyne Gillooly says $1.7 million has been spent on the Opportunity Grows Here website and campaign, an initiative launched last year, which has helped direct 5249 people into sector jobs.

Gillooly could not say if all those recruited were new to the sector, but discussions with industry indicates most are.

Included in the programme are familiarisation and basic skills courses, including partnerships with training centres Telford in Balclutha and Taratahi in the Wairarapa, which have attracted 706 people, of which 184 have moved into jobs.

It has also supported sector-run taster courses that provide experience in different areas of the food and fibre sector, such as winter pruning courses run by NZ Kiwifruit Growers.

“Our Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential Roadmap launched last year includes a target of employing 10,000 more New Zealanders in the food and fibres sector over the next four years,” Gillooly said.

“Good progress is being made.”

He says MPI is partnering with the Mount Albert Grammar School Farm’s Landed programme in Auckland, which immerses urban people into the food and fibre sector.

“A key aim is to demonstrate that they have transferable skills and that they can build long and rewarding careers in the sector,” he said.

In addition, Gillooly says a regional workforce skills liaison service has been established to support redeployment into sector jobs and a pan-sector working group is developing a skills and employment dataset to help with planning and implementation of future employment needs.

The core function of Primary ITO is to work with people already employed in the primary industries, but it does receive Trades Academy funding to provide a taster of jobs for young people.

A spokesperson says this allows exposure to the sector for secondary school students considering a career; in 2020 it had 1070 Trades Academy places, with 1128 students taking part across the year.

“We are also currently working on our Pathways into Primary Industries (PiPI) programme,” he said.

“This concept will involve bringing people into the sector and providing them with choices of pathways into dynamic and rewarding careers.”

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