Wednesday, 09 September 2020 08:19

Building up the primary sector workforce

Written by  Tim Fowler
Tim Fowler. Tim Fowler.

Tertiary Education Commission chief executive, Tim Fowler, once worked on a dairy farm as a teenager ‘townie’ and appreciates how accommodating his boss was at that time.

In this article, he outlines more about the Apprenticeship Boost and the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund schemes, which are open to employers in the primary sector.

OPINION: Taking on an apprentice or a trainee is a big commitment for any business. 

It requires a significant investment of your time and money to bring someone on and give them the supervision and training they need.  It can be hard to retain good staff when times get tough. 

Hanging onto your apprentices and employing new ones is now a lot easier, even in the face of Covid-19, because of two new schemes – Apprenticeship Boost and the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF).

Apprenticeship Boost is a subsidy, which took effect in August. It is aimed at helping employers with the costs of retaining an apprentice or taking on new ones.  It will pay employers up to $1,000 a month (plus GST) per first year apprentice and $500 for second year ones, for up to 20 months. 

As well as supporting your costs, the boost aims to provide continuity of training and employment for apprentices, ensuring we continue to produce qualified and skilled practitioners. This is vital for industry and the New Zealand economy, particularly our primary sector, which is crying out for skilled staff. 

It’s paid to you monthly in advance. You need to apply for your first month’s payment, then you’ll need to reapply each month after this to keep getting payments. There are also some restrictions. You can only get it if your apprentices are:

• employed by you, or in a self-employed contracting agreement with you

• actively training through a transitional Industry Training Organisation (ITO) or a New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology subsidiary or a private training establishment (PTE)

• training for a New Zealand Apprenticeship or Managed Apprenticeship recognised by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC)

Your apprentices must also be within their first 24 months of training, and this includes any previous apprenticeship enrolment with the same transitional ITO or provider. Only apprenticeship training is counted, so you don’t have to worry if the apprentice has done any other types of training, such as level 2 pre-trades training. 

The demands and costs of training can also make it hard for staff to stay in the game, especially if they see a less demanding job is paying similar rates. 

That’s where TTAF can help you keep them on track. It is making a range of vocational training programmes free for learners. That will give them qualifications of long term benefit, and it might help you retain valuable staff. 

It’s not just aimed at apprenticeships. Because the primary sector has been identified as a priority industry, TTAF is available for Level 3-7 sub-degree programmes delivered by tertiary education organisations, outside of apprenticeships. 

This includes training in agriculture, horticulture and viticulture, fisheries and forestry. Other priority areas are construction, community support, manufacturing and mechanical engineering and technology, electrical engineering and road transport.

More than 40 primary industries qualifications are now available under TTAF, and some training organisations are looking to increase their offering of primary sector courses. 

The Apprenticeship Boost funding is managed by Work and Income. Full details on how to apply are on the website ( 

In the last quarter this year, TEC will be rolling out our ‘Inspiring the Future’ (ITF) programme in schools. We need you, hundreds of you actually, to be role models in the ITF. By simply talking with young people about the work you do and the path you took to get there.

If you are interested in being a role model, please get in touch with our ITF team. For contact details, see

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