Need to change career perceptions

Michelle Glogau
Michelle Glogau
There is a perception that careers in the primary sector are just about farming, wearing gumboots and hard physical work in the rain, Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) chief executive Michelle Glogau says.

Changing that perception is a significant challenge but one that it is being addressed collaboratively by industry players.

''That narrow perception is to the detriment of us trying to attract more people into careers in the sector,'' Dr Glogau said.

''The findings in the Ministry of Primary Industries' 2014 People Powered report was that about 50,000 more skilled and qualified people were going to be needed in the sector by 2025.

''Alongside people working on farm, we need more people to support producers - people with skills in business, science and technology.''

PICA is an alliance of primary industry organisations, educators and government agencies, including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, Primary ITO, MPI and Young Farmers New Zealand, which formed in 2014 to jointly promote careers in the primary sector under the GrowingNZ brand.

A group of pupils take part in the GrowingNZ Innovation Challenge. Photos: GrowingNZ
A group of pupils take part in the GrowingNZ Innovation Challenge. Photos: GrowingNZ
It also researches factors that influence career decisions and career awareness, and works with members to develop career promotion initiatives.

These include career expos, school visits and resources for school teachers.

The GrowingNZ website showcases the diverse range of careers in the primary sector and has a database of more than 250 scholarships for primary sector-related study.

GrowingNZ also organises innovation challenge days for year 10 pupils studying science, technology and commerce, where they solve real challenges faced by the primary sector.

''We are looking at holding a GrowingNZ Innovation Challenge Day in Southland in Term 3 but we still have to work out the dates and location,'' Dr Glogau said.

While most of the people who worked on farms and in horticulture were passionate about their career and lifestyle choice, Dr Glogau said there were many other careers for those who chose not to work on farms but wanted to be involved in the sector.

Those careers range from rural bankers and advisers, through to science, engineering, processing and sales, and even trade negotiations and exporting.

In addition to promoting the diverse range of careers in the primary industries to school pupils, they are also targeting adults from other sectors who are considering a career change.

''People moving between sectors can be a positive thing and the primary sector can be really attractive and ideal for people looking for a change or new lifestyle.

''How do we make a connection with those people and how do we ensure their transition is successful for them?

''That's work in progress, but it's part of the mix of having a pipeline of people for the future,'' she said.

Add a Comment