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Key barrier to growth in agriculture sector

New agriculture centre of excellence meets key barrier to growth in sector – BNZ CEO

BNZ chief executive, Anthony Healy says the Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business programme, launched today at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton addresses a significant and ongoing issue with the talent pipeline in one of New Zealand’s most important growth industries.

The programme, which is a joint venture between St Paul’s Collegiate and the private sector, including BNZ, will develop and roll out a national secondary school level agribusiness programme as well as serving as a venue for profiling agribusiness as an exciting career choice.

Healy says that while 60 per cent of all the money New Zealand earns through exports comes from agriculture there is currently no structured programme at secondary school level to encourage students to take up careers in agricultural science and business, resulting in a lack of students undertaking training in one of New Zealand’s most significant industries.

“One of the issues hamstringing New Zealand’s growth is the need to better align secondary school and tertiary study with the industries crying out for talent,” says Mr Healy.

“By highlighting key growth industries, and actively encouraging our students to train in areas that will support their success, we will ensure we have the right skills in the right areas to drive ongoing business and economic growth, reduce unemployment and remove the need for bright individuals to look offshore for opportunities.”

Despite relatively high national unemployment, Federated Farmers’ July 2014 confidence survey found 20.9% of farmers said skilled and motivated staff had been harder to find than the previous year, up from 15.6% the year before. Source: Federated Farmers New Season Farm Confidence Survey – June 2014

Mr Healy says this is hardly surprising when the numbers of people taking French at secondary school level nearly doubled those taking agriculture (800 compared with 500). And of the 28,880 undergraduate degrees awarded in 2012, only 320 were in the fields of agriculture. As a comparison, law saw 1410 graduates and psychology 1480. Source:

“Education needs to be one of this country’s highest priorities if we want to enjoy ongoing economic growth. We must look forward and develop a pipeline of Kiwis with skills in the areas that this country demands.

“That requires cooperation between schools, tertiary institutions and the private sector.

“The Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business programme developed by St Paul’s and the sector, is an exemplar towards beginning that process in one of our most important industries,” Mr Healy says.


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