Keeping you up to date about food & fibre

Retaining young talent


23 Mar 2021

One of the most highly valued sessions at our annual PICA Research & Insights Forum was the Q&A with a panel of young talent working in our food & fibre sectors. The focus of this year’s panel was on transitioning young people into their first role and how to retain them once they’ve joined.

Our five panellists were:

  • Hiraina Tangiora, Policy Analyst, Ministry for Primary Industries
  • George Hyauiason, Massey University Student
  • Jack Ternouth, Area Manager, The New Zealand Merino Company
  • Paige Harris, Dairy Farm Assistant
  • Katie Moffat, Agribusiness Partner, Bank of New Zealand

What our panellists said

Our millennial facilitator Deborah Lynch, asked each panellist a series of questions including: ‘What was the most important thing that helped them transition into the workforce’?’ and ‘What would have helped them in the transition process?’

When she asked them about what the sector could do to retain young people, they were bursting with ideas:

Build on the pride people have about working in food & fibre, and promote it as an attractive and positive sector full of smart people doing good things

Understand what motivates people - ask young people what they want, they’re all different, one size doesn’t fit all

Reduce the stigma of mental health

Encourage different career pathways and progression, help people learn, grow and have fun, and enable cross-sector collaboration

What our delegates said

A number of our delegates shared their take-outs with us after the panel discussion:

"We need to reduce our jargon and speak to young people’s values. The panel reinforced that we need to make food & fibre seem appealing, positive and trendy. Giving young people some context and meaning also seems important. Wool is not just wool. It’s about clothing and other products too. Pruning grapes isn’t just pruning grapes. It about making world-class wine.

— Eve Williams, Primary ITO

"It made me think that we need to paint a better picture of what different pathways can look like for young people; giving them a better line of sight with entry and exit points along the way would encourage them to give something a go."

— Shelley Rose, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

One of the panellists suggested that employers take ‘experience required’ out of their job ads. Instead, employers can explain what they’re looking for from certain experience in case a young person with passion and the right skills and attitude could do the job without any experience.

— Alice Schofield, NZ Plant Producers Association

Learn more

For a summary of insights and tips shared by the young professionals on the panel, check out the article recently published by Farmers Weekly.

You can also view the findings from a survey of recent graduates by Nick Prince at Lincoln University.