Telford set to start offering rural pre-employment qualification

Telford Rural Polytechnic has joined forces with a North Island polytechnic to provide a new farming qualification for school-leavers it believes will give them a head-start in careers in the agriculture industry.

Approval from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Tertiary Education Commission is still being sought for the new pre-employment qualification, which takes a year to complete, but Telford chief executive Jonathan Walmisley does not see any problem obtaining it.

Telford and Masterton-based Taratahi Agriculture Training Centre will jointly offer the course.

It would be too late to introduce the new national certificate in agriculture for next year but it would be available from the 2011 academic year onwards.

Mr Walmisley said the new qualification was developed in response to concerns by tertiary funders about the "proliferation" of courses available in the rural tertiary sector.

By combining resources with Taratahi, Telford was able to offer school-leavers a course virtually identical to its national certificate qualification, but one that gave young people the "basic needs" to be more attractive to prospective employers.

Mr Walmisley hinted the joint move could be a sign of future ventures where polytechnics would work together to provide courses and qualifications.

The idea was welcomed by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean who said the new course was "absolutely brilliant" and would help equip young people with the skills they need to transition into work in the rural sector.

"There's a real need for a course like this which will give young people the basic skills required to either move into employment in the agricultural sector or to transition on to further training in the industry."

The new qualification will cover everything from handling farm machinery and vehicles to livestock and pasture management.

Mrs Dean said farmers were telling her they had work available but needed suitably qualified people.

"This qualification could address those needs, allowing people interested in employment in the rural sector to gain appropriate basic farming skills prior to applying for work."


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