Rural Contractors New Zealand president Steve Levet says schools are partly to blame for the shortage of skilled workers in agricultural contracting.
Mr Levet says the education system has always viewed agriculture as being a second rate option for the under-achievers at school.
He says the agricultural sector needs to target the brighter students and promote agriculture and agricultural contracting as a career opportunity.
Mr Levet says students can get qualifications in agricultural contracting which is not only a highly-specialised field requiring great expertise, but opens the door to international travel as well. . . .
Is it fair to blame schools?
It’s possible that they don’t know about the opportunities and if they don’t know then it’s up to the industry, and agriculture in general, to educate them.
A farm advisor who was concerned about the lack of knowledge of career opportunities in agriculture and associated industries provided a learning opportunity for several secondary school principals.
He flew them over the area, pointing out the many businesses below them then introduced them to some of the local agribusiness entrepreneurs.
The agenda included a session from an accountant who gave such good examples of the earning potential in agribusiness that one principal quipped he was in the wrong job.
The issue of the lack of skilled workers was discussed on The Nation. Federated farmers president Bruce Wills said if there’s not enough locals, immigration rules need to allow more foreign workers.
Mr Wills said only 86.5 per cent of the farming work force are New Zealand citizens so a 13.5 per cent gap is needed to be filled by migrants. He would like the Government to make it easier to attract more foreign labourers.
“We can’t run our industry now without significant numbers of immigrant workers so the industry is too important to be hijacked by lack of labour, if we cant get kiwis in these roles we got make it easy to attract and retain good quality immigrant labour,” said Mr Wills.
If kiwis don’t want the work there are plenty of foreigners who do – providing they can get visas.