Funding to develop off-season training for potential
agricultural contracting employees in Southland is being
sought, Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ)'s zone four
councillor David Kean, of Centre Bush, says.
Mr Kean said they were looking at the possibility of
establishing a three-day or four-day training course next
winter to enable more local people to develop the necessary
skills to work in the contracting industry and meet
contractors' staffing needs.
Mr Kean said they were exploring options with Work and Income
New Zealand, through company sponsorship or scholarship
funding to allow them to develop the course.
He and other RCNZ members held an induction, information and
field day at Brian Hughes' yard near Invercargill in August
and instead of an expected 30 people turning up, more than
''We have been following up the people who attended and more
than 20 people have found employment with contractors as a
result of the day,'' Mr Kean said.
He said several more had found employment since then, both
within the industry or in other areas such as calf-rearing.
''Now we are looking at how to improve things,'' Mr Kean
Feedback from other contractors and Work and Income suggested
they consider holding a similar field day closer to October
next year - the start of the contracting season - as some
felt that running it in August was too early for many people.
He said they would extend the hours of the field day from 9am
to 3pm rather than the two hours it ran for last time.
He said Work and Income staff were pleased with the field
''They know how rural contractors work now and what they
expect from employees in the field.''
He said fatigue-management needed to be addressed through
education, and ensuring young people brought enough food and
drink to the job to see them through the long days.
They would also provide young workers with information about
adequate nutrition and the need to both have plenty of food
in the cupboard and to prepare a hot meal at the end of the
day, by using crockpots or slow cookers.
''Rural contractors are keen to employ local people and give
them a chance and training, but there is still a need to
bring experienced staff in from overseas.''
Mr Kean said it had been suggested that as part of the
training, older retired contractors spend a day or two with
young workers to show them how to drive tractors and operate
''They can take them under their wing for a few days, to get
the feel of the machinery.''
He said people could not be trained to effectively operate a
baler or other heavy machinery during winter as they needed
to be in the field under real work conditions.
''Other RCNZ members throughout New Zealand were watching
what is happening here with interest.
''Once we get it right, they will run it in the rest of the
country,'' Mr Kean said.