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The facility, officially opened last week, is nestled among farmland on Dromore Methven Road, just north of Ashburton. It is the former site of the Winchmore Research Station.
Agri Training director Matt Jones said it was the fruition of many years of planning and would help students to bridge gaps they needed to work in the agricultural industry.
In his days as a young ‘‘townie’’ working on a farm, it was hard with no training or experience.
He got involved as a farm cadet in Ashburton and worked on a Mayfield property to gain his experience and skills.
The newly refurbished buildings on the site include office/ study spaces, a large classroom and practice farm space.
About 65 students, starting from January 2020, will begin their study for a Diploma in Agriculture (two years) or a Diploma in Business Management (18 months).
Mr Jones said the qualifications will be delivered through City and Guilds, which has a 140-year international history as a vocational education provider.
School leavers start residential training in February 2020; living at Pinedale Lodge, in Methven, for a month and studying at the Agri Training facility.
All the farm placements are with vetted, and accredited farmers, for on-the-job learning. It was part of a ‘‘learn and earn’’ component, which meant no student loan to repay at the end of study.
The diplomas offered are also suited for students with one or two years’ industry experience who want to gain a qualification.
“We’ve seen a gap in the quality of education. The way people learn these days is changing as well.”
Education would be offered at the Winchmore site and on farm. It would be supported by four internal training staff, online learning, industry experts and block training.
As part of the online training platform, students would also have training resources they could use on site, via mobile phone access.
They would be taught a range of on-farm skills such as health and safety, motorbikes, tractors, knot tying, carpentry and engineering, stock pressure, how to kill a sheep and how to use that meat for patties or sausage making. They would also learn about living independently (cooking, cleaning), communication skills and team building.
As part of the commitment to getting the education right, he had assembled a diverse range of industry representatives to make up the Agri Training board of directors, which included Jeanette Maxwell, Andy Innes, Innes McMillan, Adin Geeson and David Geddes.
“We really want to get this right,” Mr Jones said.