OPINION: Your old mate had a bit of a giggle at current Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor's effusive praise of the primary sector, when releasing the latest MPI SOPI report late last year.
The Government-backed initiatives include $240,000 funding for an on-the-job mentoring programme, funding for two horticulture career development managers in Pukekohe and Canterbury, the establishment of a Food and Fibre Youth Network and Innovation Activator workshops with Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).
“These initiatives follow work we’ve already done over the past eight months through the Opportunity Grows Here campaign and training initiatives that’s resulted in 3,694 more people working in the food and fibre sector,” O’Connor says.
He says the mentoring programme is a good example of how Government is partnering with the industry.
The programme will be delivered by agricultural work specialists, HanzonJobs and targets job seekers affected by Covid-19, Ministry of Social Development clients, and 18-24-year-olds who aren’t in education, employment or training.
“The Food and Fibre Youth Network and Council will provide a formal pan-sector youth voice to raise matters such as workforce issues and provide input into critical decisions to guide the future of the sector.”
O’Connor says there’s ‘no shortage’ of talented people in rural communities.
“The Activator sessions provide the opportunity for rural women to have intensive, mentor-led sessions with experts to help bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life.
“By harnessing these ideas and helping to get them off the ground, we will be building capability within the sector, and future employment opportunities.”
O’Connor says the investments will move the country along the Fit for a Better World Roadmap, which aims to accelerate the primary sector’s economic potential.