Getting more young people into the agricultural sector is
the aim of the Southland Futures project. Photo by Dairy NZ
Venture Southland is looking for up to between $200,000
and $300,000 in funding, or in kind, over three years for its
Southland Futures project, a strategy designed to help the
region's unemployed young people into jobs in the agricultural
Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group
manager Steve Canny said it had surveyed 600 Southland pupils
last December, and found that few were considering careers in
the agriculture or agricultural services sectors.
The organisation found young people and Work and Income
clients did look at agricultural jobs in a positive way,
apart from the long hours, but often lacked ''direct
experience of the industry''.
In its draft ''Southland Futures Primary Industry Careers for
Young People'' report, the organisation's other research
found that many Southland employers had reported ''challenges
around recruitment'' and that several industries had ''labour
shortages and more were expected due to factors around ageing
workforce and changing skills requirements''.
It suggested developing improved connections between schools
and the industry and, to do so, had created the Southland
Futures Primary Careers Youth Strategy.
''We have done the analysis and identified the key issues for
youth unemployment,'' Mr Canny said.
''The level of youth unemployed is much higher than
''For the 15 to 19 age groups in the Southland district, 9%
are unemployed or outside education and in the Gore district
it is 10% and in Invercargill it is 22%.''
The report said of those aged 20 to 24, 13% were unemployed
compared to the nationwide average of 6%.
''Having them [young people] out of employment or training is
a waste of human capital,'' he said. The agricultural sectors
also faced challenges finding labour. As an example, he said
Rural Contractors New Zealand members had reported having 200
hard-to-fill seasonal and full-time vacancies across the
Once funding was in place Venture Southland would establish a
task force and employ a project co-ordinator and field worker
and develop a ''Pathway into the Sector'' from school and
unemployment, through to careers in the industry.
In addition, the strategy group would provide mentoring and
support for young people, deliver a work experience
programme, and work with key stakeholders such as education
bodies, Federated Farmers, Young Farmers, industry
representatives and employers to develop ''seamless''
regional career pathways.
The strategy also outlined proposals to design and promote a
''Good Employer'' standard or rating system and develop
''We also need to remove barriers [to agricultural work],
such as isolation and transport,'' he said.
''However, no issue is insurmountable and there are always
ways of making things happen.
''This is a long-term commitment, not a stop-gap measure, and
it affects our future.
''Young people are our future,'' he said.
- by Yvonne O'Hara