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NZ secondary schools eye agribusiness subjects

NZ secondary schools eye agribusiness subjects to bolster industry

By Tina Morrison

Nov. 26 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand secondary schools are trialling an agribusiness programme which aims to feed more students into tertiary study to provide future talent for the industry.

Some 48 students trialled a pilot curriculum at St Paul's Collegiate School in Hamilton this year with another 85 signed up for next year, the school said in a statement. Seven other schools throughout the country have joined the project and will offer the subject in 2016, with the new subject expected to be available to all secondary schools by 2017, it said.

The agricultural sector, led by industry groups DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, helped develop the curriculum through a $2 million public-private partnership investment. The agricultural industry employs about 11 percent of New Zealand's workforce, however the number of university graduates in agriculture fields has been declining. DairyNZ estimates some 1,000 tertiary graduates are needed in the industry each year, about five times the current rate.

As part of the new curriculum development, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will officially launch the St Paul's Collegiate Centre of Excellence for Agriculture Science and Business in Hamilton on Friday. Guy said yesterday he wants the primary sector to double the value of exports to $64 billion by 2025, from $32 billion in in 2012, part of which required attracting the best people into the primary industries.

"Industry and government need to start working closely together because we are facing a skills shortage in the future," Guy told a Primary Sector Bootcamp in Wellington, made up of the chief executives from primary sector organisations including beef, sheep, seafood, viticulture and horticulture.

In the year through September, milk powder, butter and cheese accounted for 31 percent of New Zealand's exports, while meat and edible offal made up 11 percent of exports and logs and wood articles represented 7.3 percent. The latest figures for October will be published tomorrow.

(BusinessDesk)

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