DairyNZ training courses begin

DairyNZ has started rolling out its Go Dairy and Farm Ready training courses in Invercargill and at the SIT Telford campus, near Balclutha, as well as in the Waikato.

The courses have been developed to address staff shortages in the dairy industry.

Covid-19 border restrictions meant many migrant workers who normally filled the vacancies were stuck overseas and unable to return to New Zealand.

In addition, many New Zealanders in other industries had lost their jobs and Go Dairy encouraged those people to consider working in the dairy sector.

More than 50 people had registered to date for the courses, DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said.

Farm Ready training is a three-week programme comprising a week of online learning followed by two weeks of practical training.

The first intake was last week, with 16 people enrolled.

The next group started on Monday and another starts on June 22.

During the first week, the courses build on the trainees’ understanding of working and living on a New Zealand dairy farm, completed online.

"Week 1 attendees will be able to walk away knowing if a career in dairying is right for them.

"The practical component of the programme will teach the basics of animal handling, farm infrastructure and farm vehicle safety.

"It’s the beginning of a career change for people looking at the possibility of a dairy farming career.

"Opening the door to new people will also help fill the gap this coming season that farm employers have in the recent years of low unemployment filled with new migrant staff, who are now impacted by border restrictions."

While DairyNZ did not collate exact figures on regional vacancies, it did know there were at least 1000 jobs up for grabs in the dairy sector throughout New Zealand, Ms Muir said.

"Southland represents about 10% of dairy employees on farm so we would expect around 100 jobs to be available in the region," she said.

"We believe that if we have Kiwis stepping up for these jobs, along with extensions to visas for our existing migrant workers, we will be able to fill the vacancies.

"To achieve this, we also need the Government to approve border extensions for our migrant workers who have jobs in New Zealand but are stuck offshore due to Covid-19.

"We want more Kiwis in dairy and we’ve launched a campaign, Go Dairy, to train and recruit them.

"But the challenge is it can’t happen with a flick of the switch and we need our skilled migrant workers who are stuck overseas to return home to both do the work for this season and help the transition for Kiwi workers."

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