A new apprentice programme based in the booming dairy industry is now looking to find and have 200 young workers on farms across the country in the coming months. This could be a life-changing opportunity for some school leavers.
Federated Farmers and Primary ITO have teamed up to offer the new apprenticeships in an effort to quickly grow the number and the skills of young people in the dairy industry.
Called Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy, these apprenticeships will be a partnership with Federated Farmers finding the farms and employers, while the Primary ITO will recruit the apprentices and organise their training towards the NZQA-recognised qualifications. Eventually up to 500 apprentices will be involved in the programme.
Three streams of potential candidates
The scheme will link to initiatives such as schools-based Trades Academies and Gateway programmes. The Primary ITO believes there are three streams of potential candidates:
- Highly capable, potential future leaders; the "cream of the crop" who would come with the right attitude and the right basic skills and understanding;
- Candidates who are practical, willing to work and be trained;
- Those not currently in employment, and who perhaps "had a bad run in the education system".
Here’s what the apprenticeships will involve
First you'll start with a 16-week course, the first four weeks being to get up to speed on basic work ethics and habits, Health and Safety, etc. This would be followed by 12 weeks on-farm, upskilling on handling stock, basic pasture management, motorcycle/quad use and safety, etc. Trainees would earn level 1 and 2 credits on the NZQA framework.
The next stage, apprenticeships, would take two to three years to complete "depending on the learner". Apprentices will come out with a level 3/4 Certificate in Dairy and then progress towards courses in herd and farm management, and potentially into share-milking and eventually farm ownership.
Based on former successful Farm Cadet scheme
Federated Farmers had previously successfully operated an apprenticeship scheme, called the Farm Cadet, in the 1970s until the early 1990s. In recent years many dairy farmers have relied on cheap labour from Asia rather than training and employing locals.
The Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy programme is a sign the industry is hearing the message from government agencies that it can’t keep relying on hiring employees from overseas. The winners from this will be young Kiwis like you who see their future in the ‘white gold’ dairy industry.