Food & Fibre CoVE a commitment to primary sector success

  • Hon Damien O’Connor

The announcement today by the Education Minister of the first Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) for the primary sector is another sign of the Government’s commitment to our farmers and growers, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

This Government believes in our primary sector. It’s the engine room of our economy and the heart of our rural communities. We want to see it grow and thrive and – for that – we need a workforce,” Damien O’Connor said.

“This is another demonstration of the Government’s commitment to the primary sector and to raising the status of vocational education.

“It’s estimated the primary sector will need another 50,000 workers by 2025 and over 92,000 more workers with qualifications. While the sector is on the rise, it is still struggling to attract, train and retain the diverse range of people it needs to continue growing.

“Industry have told us they want the Government to work with them to grow their workforce and to help future-proof the sector. We’ve heard them and we’re delivering.

“We’ve got Taratahi back up and running and courses running at Telford. We’re backing Dairy NZ’s ‘Go Dairy’ programme and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc winter pruning courses, and we recently launched Opportunity Grows Here – a website and marketing campaign to attract New Zealanders into food and fibre jobs.

“A lot of work by a lot of people has gone in to get us to this point. In October last year I joined with the Primary Industries Skills Leaders Working Group and launched the Food & Fibre Skills Action Plan. Immediately following that, an industry-led Establishment Group was set up to maintain momentum and to start delivering the actions.

“We have not taken our foot off the pedal. There are significant employment opportunities in our primary industries and we are committed to helping to train people to have the skills they need for the opportunities in front of us.”

Background information on the Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence

The Food and Fibre CoVE Consortium is a significant collaboration of around 54 organisations organisations across the entire food and fibre sector including industry associations, tertiary providers, Māori, employers, employees and standard setting bodies.

Establishing the Food and Fibre CoVE with its food and fibre sector led approach, is a key result for the Food and Fibre Skills Establishment Group as it delivers on the Food and Fibre Skills Action Plan, and a decisive step forward in the partnership between the food and fibre sectors and government.

This CoVE will be hosted by the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) through its subsidiary, the Eastern Institute of Technology in the Hawkes Bay. The CoVE’s intention is to build excellence in vocational education through focusing on the success of learners, industry and education.

The key focus areas for work are:

  1. Attracting and retaining learners and staff - from school to vocational education, to higher learning, and to and in the workforce.
  2. Defining vocational excellence - explore and identify excellence in food and fibre vocational education, locally and internationally, focussed on learner and employer success and satisfaction.
  3. Specialised projects – test and embed new ideas, innovations and specialised opportunities from across the regions and sectors.