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KPMG Agribusiness Agenda: The People Challenge

MEDIA RELEASE – Wednesday 21st August 2013

KPMG Agribusiness Agenda

The People Challenge
The capability of the people in New Zealand’s primary sector has been a key contributor to global successes that have been achieved and are critical to the sector’s future.

While competitors can replicate equipment and processes, it is not easy to replicate the insight and relationships that people have developed over decades.

A fundamental issue facing businesses and organisations in the industry is sourcing the right people, with the correct skills, to facilitate their success in an evolving global agri-food system.

However KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot says “There is still a strong perception that primary sector careers are viewed by many as second-class opportunities – not for our best and brightest people.

The importance of securing an appropriate share of the talented people this country produces was consistently raised as a high priority for the industry leaders we talked to in researching the 2013 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda.” Proudfoot added.

As a result the second volume of this year’s KPMG Agribusiness Agenda (titled “Maintaining our People-Powered Performance”) focuses on the issues and opportunities associated with people in the primary sector.

The leaders we spoke to recognise that this is an industry issue and needs collaboration between organisations to address the issue. Initiatives are needed throughout our schooling system, at university level, in the workplace and the boardroom to ensure the best talent is attracted into the sector and then developed and retained.

Some of the root causes of the people challenges facing our primary sector are identified in the Agribusiness Agenda as:

• A lack of recognition of agriculture within our school curriculums given its importance to the economy, and a need to educate teachers and careers advisers on the challenging technical, global careers the sector can provide.

• A continuing tendency amongst people in the industry to place a low priority on people management and development, and a need to move beyond a “just farmer” mentality to recognise a career in agriculture as a professional career.

• A rapidly approaching wave in retirement in our national science community which will start to seriously reduce our capability in the next five years, and a need to look beyond our competitive science funding regimes to preserve our national institutional knowledge.

• The increasing scale and cost of farming businesses are raising the barriers for young people wanting to get into the sector at the same time as many older farmers are looking at how they can retire from their business.

• The industry continues to be challenged by diversity, be this recognising and leveraging the contribution women make to agribusinesses or supporting the integration of migrant workers into rural communities. We need to ensure everybody’s talents are directed towards the long term success of the sector.

Ian Proudfoot said “One comment summed up the issue, when it was noted that the industry has to give Granddad back the confidence to recommend that his grandkids should look at a career in New Zealand’s primary sector.

The challenge to the industry is to take the steps now that will grow its prosperity and maintain its people-powered performance into the future.

The attached Agribusiness Agenda addresses the solutions to the challenges.


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