12 Dec 2014

More primary sector jobs will be in cities

3:56 pm on 12 December 2014

More and more jobs connected to the primary sector will be generated in cities and towns, not on the farm.

no caption

Agriculture, fishing and forestry increasingly rely on skills encompassing science, finance and marketing, said Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The Government estimates an extra 50,000 workers will be needed if the sector is to reach its goal of doubling primary exports to $64 billion by 2025.

Of those 26,000 will be tertiary trained professionals.

The Ministry for Primary Industries forecasts most of the growth will be in support services, rather than on farms or in processing plants.

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly said agriculture, fishing and forestry was becoming more sophisticated and complex, and increasingly relied on skills that encompassed science, finance and marketing.

"Jobs on the farm are unlikely to increase very much between now and about 2025 because of course, if you think about farms they're going to become much more mechanised and fewer people operating per hectare or per dollar of volume of course.

"The real growth is actually in areas like engineering, ICT, support services, these sorts of things, so the implication of that is you can be working in the agriculture sector in Queen St Auckland, or in Lambton Quay Wellington."

Competitions and new school subjects are just some of the tactics the Government is using to attract high school students to the primary sector.

Four Year 10 pupils from Huanui College in Whangarei won the top award for the Enterprising Primary Industries Career challenge yesterday, after designing a marketing campaign for careers within the bee industry.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said engaging students as young as 15 got them thinking about career options and the subjects that may be needed.

He said it was a very important age when students were starting to think about NCEA and their future career paths.

"We need to do a better job of selling the primary industries to them and their peers. A lot of these will be highly skilled individuals, they'll be robotic engineers, they'll be food safety scientists, they'll be environmental planners. Agriculture, horticulture, fishing is becoming more sophisticated, so we've got to attract the brightest and the best into what is a huge part of the New Zealand economy."

A Ministry for Primary Industries senior science advisor Liz Clayton said it was about changing students' perceptions.

"Well if you ask young people, they think that primary industries is really about milking cows or shearing sheep, they don't see the whole range of careers that are available and in this day and age you've got robotics, you've got irrigation and IT requirements so targeting these Year 10 students means that they have the opportunity to, as one of the girls said, change what they choose for the following years."

Ms Clayton said the sciences are very important in the primary industries and encouraging students to look at a variety of options and what subjects are needed is important.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs