Taratahi Agriculture Training Centre. PHOTO/FILE

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Agriculture training courses will be up and running at the Taratahi Agriculture Training Centre by the end of the month to help transition people to the industry which faces huge worker shortages.

UCOL Wairarapa and the Eastern Institute of Technology have partnered, along with industry representatives Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane, to offer “career weeks” for people to experience life on the land before committing to a career in the agricultural sector.

The three-week taster courses, based at the agricultural training centre, start with a four-day-three-night programme for 20 students covering general farming skills like working with farm vehicles, fencing, pasture management, cattle, sheep, and technology.

The courses are free, with accommodation and meals provided and include visits to farms and industry.

People could choose to continue for a second week with course topics – including dairy, ag contracting, apiculture, wool handling, silviculture, horticulture and sheep and beef – and then a third week covering agricultural vehicles and health and safety, with 16 spaces provided.

Previously, short courses were offered at Taratahi as well as longer 42-week courses.

UCOL Wairarapa director Berni Potham said she was excited as they had worked closely with the industry to develop the new courses.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the passion and support for the industry,” she said.

One of the first priorities would be addressing labour shortages in the dairy sector, followed by ag contracting.

Potham said it was the ideal opportunity to see what was involved before making a commitment and the initiative had come about largely in response to job losses related to covid-19.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants it.”

She said they had been working closely with staff at the Southern Institute of Technology Telford campus which was running a similar model.

Telford’s programme director Debbie Rankin said only 50 people had registered for the 180 spaces.

She said many of those who wanted to seek permanent work in the industry would go for courses where they could gain a qualification, but it was a good general introduction and also offered insight into farming practices like organics and forestry.

Interest in their ag contracting courses, now into its third week, had been much stronger with more than 100 sign-ups for the 120 spaces.

  • Registrations of interest for the UCOL/EIT “career weeks” can be made by emailing enquiry@ucol.ac.nz or by phoning 0800 GO UCOL 0800 468 265. The courses will run through to mid-December this year.