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Stratford Press - 2021-07-21

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Workforce council ‘a positive step’

The Country

AGovernment announcement enabling the formation of a Workforce Development Council for people, food and fibre is a positive step for the dairy sector, says DairyNZ. Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the legislation enabling the formation of six workforce development councils had been passed and they could now be established. The councils would work towards ensuring people graduate with the right skills at the right time to address skill shortages. “This is a positive step — we all need to work together to resolve longterm workforce issues to support our sector’s ongoing success,” said DairyNZ responsible dairy general manager Jenny Cameron. “We look forward to working with the council responsible for the dairy sector, Muka Tangata — People, Food and Fibre Workforce Development Council, to identify capability and training needs across the entire sector.” A management team would now be employed by the council to get on with the important task of working with industry, employers and providers to develop the workforce needed for the future. “We have real concerns for the current situation where many dairy farmers are struggling to employ the staff they need on farms,” Cameron said. “Finding solutions will be crucial to support the sector to meet the challenges ahead, including having the right talent and number of people to address climate change, water quality, people and animal care. “As a sector, we strive to offer competitive employment packages and value the importance of having a positive workplace culture. “We want to attract more Kiwi workers to the dairy sector, where we offer great jobs and lifestyles. We also need our valued migrant workers,” she said. DairyNZ encouraged the council to also take on an industry promotion role to make sure people were aware of the sector and opportunities. They would also coordinate relevant training that employers and employees value, and address the skill shortage. DairyNZ supported a range of key initiatives, including the Ministry of Primary Industries’ Opportunity Grows Here campaign, while Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre continued to roll out Farm Ready Training Courses. “People are at the heart of our sector and we look forward to working with the council and all other interested parties to identify solutions to workforce needs,” Cameron said.

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