Canterbury school students get hands-on with food and fibre careers


Secondary school students in Canterbury will have the breadth of food and fibre careers showcased to them thanks to a new initiative launched today, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

Secondary School Employer Partnerships (SSEP) Canterbury is a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries and SmartNZ, a charitable trust that connects youth and employers by creating pathways from education to employment.

“We want and need young minds to be lit up by the breadth of food and fibre sector careers on offer in Canterbury,” Damien O’Connor said.

“These range from working on-farm, to carrying out important research and innovation, to providing professional services that give vital support to the sector.

“Canterbury is one of New Zealand’s key food and fibre producing hubs.  The next generation of sector innovators will be a key part of the region’s future success.”

The Secondary School Employer Partnerships Canterbury is based on an award-winning initiative, first rolled out by SmartNZ in the Waikato in 2016.  To date, more than 10,000 students from 41 Waikato secondary schools and 250 local employers have been involved in the initiative.

Secondary School Employer Partnerships help to provide important contextualised learning in the classroom. They are three-year formal relationships between secondary schools and local employers who link in with school curriculums at Years 9 and 10.They aim to provide real-world application of the secondary school curriculum and expose students to a wide range of career opportunities inside and outside of the classroom.

“The programme provides extensive resources for teachers, employers, and others that are tailored to individual school learning objectives, kaupapa, and local employment opportunities.”

Damien O’Connor said SSEP Canterbury will contribute to delivering on the Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential roadmap, the Government’s 10-year food and fibre sector roadmap, aimed at accelerating New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

“We launched Fit for a Better World to boost productivity, sustainability, and jobs.

“Delivering the roadmap requires the right people and fresh thinking.  By reaching young people in secondary schools through the SSEPs, we can show youth and their families the huge range of exciting career pathways on offer and pique their interest in rewarding and life-long careers in our food and fibre sector.

“The Government very much sees our primary industries as fundamental to our future.

“Initiatives like this that engage young people will help us to become the best producers for the world,” Damien O’Connor said.