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Careers and Education Hub: Consider a career in the food and fibre sector

29 Jul 2021

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Original story from NZ Herald.

If you are looking for a job or thinking of changing careers the food and fibre sector has plenty of opportunities.

Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA/GrowingNZ) CEO Michelle Glogau says there's no better time than now to think about a career in the food and fibre sector.

"Covid-19 has shown the strength and resilience of our sectors. To meet the demand around the world for quality New Zealand ideas, products and services, and to help shape the future of food and fibre in New Zealand, we need more skilled people," Glogau said.

"Whether you're a school leaver considering your options or looking to transfer your skills to a new career, there are myriad opportunities in food and fibre to suit everyone."

A dedicated space for those curious about the career and training pathways available in the sector was the Fieldays Careers and Education Hub, hosted by GrowingNZ.

Deborah Lynch, information manager at GrowingNZ, says it was rewarding to broaden people's horizons about the vast range of exciting careers available.

She said there are fantastic career opportunities on-farm as well as careers in towns and cities, with two-thirds of the sector's workforce being employed in processing and commercialisation.

"You don't need to come from a rural background either. While it can be helpful to have some form of connection with the rural sector, it's just as important to be passionate and have the right attitude."

Lynch said that a highlight for her at Fieldays was chatting to school leavers who were unsure what their next steps would be after school, and them walking away feeling more confident about their potential career pathways.

"I'd essentially play 20 questions with them, digging deeper into their values and what they're really passionate about.

"I'd show them a career path in the sector that suits them and a case study of someone in a real job so they could go, 'hey, here's someone who loves what I love'. Then I'd arm them with information about where to go next to explore their options.

"Also, the beauty of being at Fieldays was that we could connect them to the relevant organisations and training providers who were also exhibiting. They could give them more specific information."

Although school leavers and career changers were key audiences of the Hub, GrowingNZ went one step further, engaging with primary school students to broaden their career aspirations and future proof the sector simultaneously.

This involved a mystery panel event facilitated by Inspiring the Future, a programme by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) that is run in schools across the country.

Students played "guess who" to figure out the careers of four mystery role models in a diverse range of roles in the food and fibre sector.

Inspiring the Future is a programme stemming from the findings of New Zealand research, Drawing the Future, where school students were asked to draw what they wanted to be when they were older.

From a pool of 7700 drawings received by the TEC, results showed that more than 50 per cent of the drawings showed children aspiring to just nine jobs, and only one of these top jobs was a farmer.

Inspiring the Future is recruiting role models to share their career story and inspire our young people's future prospects. If you can spare a few hours of your time, you can sign up at inspiringthefuture.org.nz.

ABOUT FIELDAYS

Fieldays is on a 114-hectare site at Mystery Creek 10 minutes from Hamilton and is the largest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere.

Fieldays draws exhibitors and visitors from around the globe. Fieldays online, launched in 2020 as a world first during Covid-19, attracted 90,455 total visitors and viewership from more than 75 countries. This year, 132,776 people visited the Fieldays, becoming the second biggest in the event's 53-year history.

Fieldays is run by New Zealand National Fieldays Society, a charitable organisation founded in 1968 to advance the primary industries.

Original story from NZ Herald.