Taratahi closure means options reduced for future farmers

The study options for many students around the country keen on a future in the agriculture sector got slimmer over the summer break.

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, based in the Wairarapa but with facilities around the country, was closed down in December.

Taratahi specialised in vocational agricultural and horticultural training and offered courses that in some cases were not available elsewhere. Last year around 1200 students enrolled with Taratahi were hands-on learning the skills they need for a career on the land, but this wasn’t enough numbers it seems.

Struggling with a $23 million debt (that had grown over the last four years) and declining student numbers, the decision was made to close. What happens to some of their current students is still uncertain.

Last year the institution signed on 555 EFTS (full and part time), well down on expectations and meaning the funding they received from the government was also well down. The government pays tertiary institutes for each EFT, with this being around $22,000 at universities and $12,000 at polytechnics. Taratahi was likely to receive around $10,000/EFT, not enough to provide the actual hands-on agricultural training the students need.

This is an issue highlighted by the head of the country’s farming spokespeople, Federated Farmers.

Here's the latest update from the TEC (Tertiary Education Commission) and steps that current or prospective Tarahiti students can consider.

Hopes to keep Telford operating

There is some hope that Southland-based Telford, rolled into Taratahi in 2017, may be able to continue offering its unique residential training facilities for students from all obver the country. There are big hopes that SIT may assume management of the long established and successful Telford and there is powerful community support to see this happen.

The Taratahi closure raises a few points

Are there no jobs in agriculture? There are plenty, one in every six jobs in NZ, and more are going to be created. There are so many that students are going directly into work instead of into training.

That’s a good thing isn’t it? For some students it’s good, but for others maybe not. Agriculture and horticulture are increasingly becoming high tech operations. Study and training help prepare students for this future, but going into one farming job from school may mean getting stuck and not gaining the broader skills that are needed.

You said study and training? Yeah, you can take a number of pathways, from specific courses through to university degrees. We’ve got a bunch of these shown here, and the same for horticulture. The Primary ITO has a massive range of courses and options to check out too, and they are planning to boost these now that Tarahiti has hit the wall.

Are these courses fees free? If you’re leaving school to start one, they are all fees free for the first year or two years in some training courses.

 

SchoolLeaver- Jan, 2019

   
   
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