Central Otago campus course has high-country skills focus

Otago Polytechnic Central Otago campus lecturer Anne-Marie Parcell, who is teaching the polytechnic's new high-country farming course,classes wool at Northburn Station, near Cromwell. Photo supplied.
Otago Polytechnic Central Otago campus lecturer Anne-Marie Parcell, who is teaching the polytechnic's new high-country farming course,classes wool at Northburn Station, near Cromwell. Photo supplied.
Otago Polytechnic's Central Otago campus is offering a new high-country farming course this year.

The one-year National Certificate in farming skills - Work ready, Level 3 - is to be offered for the first time in Central Otago, and in a country-wide first, will focus on high-country farming.

Lecturer in charge of the course, Anne-Marie Parcell, said motivation to run the course came from a lack of skilled workers on sheep and beef farms.

''Farmers are finding it difficult to find good, competent workers,'' she said.

The course had three main components, theory, practical, and work experience. Practical work would be conducted on Wainui Station, near Cromwell, where Miss Parcell worked as stock manager.

Large parts of the course would also focus on health and safety on farms, and animal welfare.

Based around farm work, it was designed so the skill set required on a farm was met by the end of the course.

''[There will be] Blocks of work experience throughout the year to get used to what happens at different times of a year on a farm,'' Miss Parcell said.

''A big part of work experience will be around the shearing period - the whole high country calendar is built around that.''

Miss Parcell said the course would suit anyone who was passionate about working with animals, particularly sheep, cattle and dogs.

Students could come from different age groups, including school leavers or people in their 30s wanting a career change.

It was hard, physical work but very rewarding, she said.

Being hired after completion of the course was expected to occur through farmer recommendation.

''A lot of jobs in farming are word of mouth and if you have a good work ethic, skills, knowledge and the right attitude, through work experience word will get around and a job will hopefully come out of that.''

Any inquiries regarding the course were welcome, and entries were being accepted until the starting date on February 17, as there was no set number on the class size.

Miss Parcell said her decision to teach the course came after working on farms and in the farming industry, and after teaching livestock handling last year, she believed she could pass on knowledge she had learnt from mentors to young people interested in getting into farming.

- Leith Huffadine.