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Encouraging students into the primary sector

Author: Thomson, Jaime

Organisation: Primary Industry Management

Published: December 2013

Country: New Zealand

Research type: Report

New Zealand sits in an interesting position. It has a reputation as a worldleading, innovative food producer and has around 60 per cent of its export wealth coming from the primary sector. As such, you could be forgiven for assuming that a fairly typical secondary school student, when considering options for tertiary study, would be attuned to the scientific and commercial opportunities which fall out of the nation’s largest industry. However, New Zealand is also a highly urbanised society. According to the 2001 census, 86 per cent of the country’s total population were living in urban centres and a large proportion of these in Auckland. When it comes to population distribution this country is therefore highly urbanised and top heavy. We can put part of New Zealand’s heavily skewed demographic shift from rural to urban down to the efficiencies and innovations which make our primary sector so competitive, features which have eased the demand for labour on the land. However, such a change need not imply that the current urban to rural ratio is conducive to ensuring that this sector is will be supplied by the annual pool of university graduates. Between them, Lincoln and Massey Universities may only be turning out about a third of the graduates in land-based science and commerce programmes required by the primary industry.