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Skilled and off-farm jobs the growth areas for agriculture

Skilled and off-farm jobs the growth areas for agriculture

By Pattrick Smellie

June 6 (BusinessDesk) - Support services will be the biggest source of job growth for an increasingly sophisticated agricultural sector, a report on the future workforce needs of primary industries concludes.

Projections for the Ministry of Primary Industries, published today, forecasts that some 140,000 primary sector support services jobs will be required by 2025, compared with around 105,000 now, making it the fastest area of job growth and the largest source of employment in the primary sector, which covers sheep, beef, dairy and other animal farming, horticulture, fishing, and forestry.

Sheep and beef farming shows the largest fall in projected workforce size will be in the sheep and beef sectors, where jobs are expected to shrink to around 70,000 by 2025, from around 95,000 in 2002. The booming dairy sector shows hardly any job growth in the next decade, settling at around 50,000.

The report identifies support services as including manufacturing such as fertilisers, pesticides, farm equipment and maintenance, transport and professional services, such as rural consultants, reflecting greater specialisation and customer sophistication in the markets for New Zealand's major primary exports, especially food.

In 2002, some 22.6 percent of the primary sector workforce was in support services, and that rose to 30.2 percent by 2012. By 2025, it is forecast to be more than 34 percent, with the success of primary industries "depending on activities beyond the farm gate and processing operations."

"The expansion in primary sector activities is expected to increase demand most for support and sales workers, non-farm managers, transport and plant operators, and professionals (design, engineering, science, and transport along with information communications technology and other professionals)."

This shift also implies more skilled workers, with the proportion of primary sector employees having a post-school qualification expected to climb from about half the workforce at the moment to two-thirds by 2025.

To deal with turnover in the workforce, "the industry is likely to need to find an additional 90,200 traditional workers to meet demand and to replace the natural attrition of workers," the report says.


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