Lincoln students will be able to help ease the pressure on rural contractors struggling to fill the gap a lack of migrant workers is creating in the primary sector due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Alongside offering qualifications designed to meet the future employment needs of the food and fibre sector, Lincoln has taken the move to help the sector now, modifying its rules around compulsory practical work requirements to include contracting.
The Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund is covering course costs for four Lincoln University sub-degree programmes, Diplomas in Horticulture, Agriculture, Farm Management and Organic Agri-Food Production, from July 2020 until December 2022.
All have a practical work requirement, as do many other programmes at the land-based university.
Contractor work could include hay baling and silage baling, as well as spraying, muck spreading, shearing, ploughing and other tractor operation and bulk supplementary feed production.
Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bruce McKenzie, said Lincoln was strongly connected to the sector and he had a discussion with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor about how to help fill this need.
Agribusiness lecturer, Dan Smith, said typically a large number of British and Irish workers travel here to complete this work and many contractors would usually be in the United Kingdom recruiting staff now.
“Given the current global pandemic it is unlikely these workers will have the freedom to come here which will place a lot of pressure on these businesses, and this was putting pressure on contractors to fill their needs.”
He said agricultural degrees and diplomas at Lincoln include a practical work component where students are required to work on farm to gain experience.
“This year Lincoln University will extend the parameters of this practical work to allow students to get out and work for rural contractors. We see the value in this experience and also see the incredible importance of the rural contractor industry.”
“Allowing the students to count rural contracting work towards their practical work requirement, we hope, will alleviate some of the pressure on these contractors and provide the students with a taste of how these hard working members of the New Zealand agriculture industry operate.”