30 October 2019
We were excited to help Minister O’Connor launch the Food & Fibre Skills Action Plan 2019-2022, at Feilding High School yesterday.
The Action Plan was developed by the Primary Industries Skills Leaders Working Group (SLWG) - of which PICA is a member. It is an important collaborative step towards meeting New Zealand’s current and future food & fibre workforce needs.
The Action Plan aims to address the challenges food & fibre employers have attracting, training and retaining a diverse range of people with the right skills. It complements and builds on existing individual primary sector and government initiatives.
PICA’s mandate is to attract talented people into our food & fibre sectors by working together. The Action Plan presents an exciting opportunity for us to be part of an even more joined-up, pan-sector approach.
The food & fibre sectors underpin New Zealand’s economy. They employ approximately 350,000 people, or one in seven New Zealanders and account for 11% of New Zealand’s GDP.
As the start of a pan-sector and government partnership, the intention is for all food & fibre sectors to be engaged and receive the benefits of the plan. It initially covers the agriculture and horticulture sectors but is the beginning of a broader pan-sector and government partnership.
The future demands a strong and agile workforce ready to respond and adapt to new challenges. The Action Plan aims to support the development of a workforce that can meet these needs by delivering on four key focus areas: knowledge; attraction; education; and employment.
The Action Plan draws together and builds on many initiatives already underway across individual sectors and government.
Attraction is one of the key areas in the Action Plan but it doesn’t try to do everything. The plan has identified some key areas for us to continue focussing on. This makes sense from both an evidence and investment perspective: Curriculum resources – raising awareness by integrating food & fibre into classroom teaching. Engaging and raising awareness of teachers and career advisors – alongside parents they are an important influence on students making decisions about their future careers.
Attracting new talent into New Zealand’s food & fibre sectors – whether someone is still in education or thinking about changing careers – is a critical part of building capability of the food & fibre sector. We know there is a very limited awareness about career opportunities in our sector, and this is often accompanied by an aversion to considering our food & fibre sectors.
The action plan includes the much-needed co-investment in a targeted marketing campaign to address the negative perceptions of careers in food & fibre.
The Food & Fibre Skills Action Plan and a high-level summary can be found on MPI’s website: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes/other-programmes/future-skills/