Building on our good reputation
New Zealand has a strong reputation for exporting high-quality and sustainable foods and fibres. But we must work hard to adapt if we're to maintain that reputation in a fast-changing world.
Some factors redefining how primary industries must work include:
- higher consumer expectations
- a greater focus on sustainability
- new technologies
- an increasingly complex global supply chain.
New Zealand will have to be innovative at every production step if we're going to hold and grow our competitive advantage in the global market.
Succession pathways in horticulture
The horticulture industry has been experiencing strong growth, so it’s important it has clear succession pathways. These will help to ensure the industry is able to continue attracting skilled people and help those retiring from the industry to find suitable replacements.
In 2020, we commissioned a report into financial and business mechanisms that can help people to gain ownership of horticulture businesses or build equity through horticultural careers. Most options in the report can also be applied in other primary sectors.
Successful intergenerational business transition is vital for viability and growth of our sector and businesses. A change in management or ownership is one of the biggest change a business goes through in a generation. It requires choosing the most suitable succession mechanism, and good planning, communication and execution.
Report on the skills we need
In 2021, MPI commissioned NZIER to provide a report on the current composition of the forestry and wood processing sector, broken down by key roles and skill levels. Better understanding the workforce composition of the forestry and wood processing sector will enable us to more accurately forecast how the workforce may change over time as the industry becomes more mechanised and uses more technology. It will also enable better forecasting of the skills needed to help transform the industry to add more value to the forestry and wood processing sector. Finally, it will help inform current and future actions around attracting, upskilling, and retaining people.
In 2018 Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, the Forest Owners Association, and the Forest Industry Contractors Association surveyed the commercial silviculture and harvesting sector. The aim of this work was to better understand industry labour requirements for 2019, and to learn what the industry thinks are the main reasons for labour shortages.
Jobs becoming more specialised
The future of work in the primary industries will be more specialised than it has been in the past. This is driven by:
- sophisticated technologies
- a growing market in Asia
- critical issues around food safety, biosecurity, sustainability, and animal welfare.
Workers in the primary industries will often need non-traditional skills such as language and cultural understanding.
Key facts about the food and fibre sector workforce
The food and fibre workforce is large and has many different roles and skill requirements. Producing food and fibre means managing complex biological, food safety, and logistic systems and being able to respond to and meet consumer needs.
In 2020, the food and fibre sector employed 359,000 unique people, that is about 1 in 7 people in the New Zealand workforce. This includes:
- 179,000 people employed in core production
- 86,000 people employed in core processing/manufacturing
- 70,000 people employed in strongly connected industries – for example, veterinarians, or fertiliser manufacturing
- 23,000 in relevant industries – for example, road freight, or engineering design
- 6,000 in other industries – for example, contractors supplying labour services.
How the food and fibre workforce compares to the New Zealand workforce
The food and fibre workforce is broadly similar to the New Zealand workforce in terms of age, ethnicity, and education. The food and fibre workforce is not as gender balanced as the New Zealand workforce with a higher proportion of men. The demographics of the workforce also varies across sectors and regions, which highlights areas with potential gains from improving diversity.
Food and fibre skills action plan
To ensure the food and fibre sector has the workforce it needs, the Primary Industries Skills Leaders Working Group has developed the Food and fibre skills action plan 2019–2022.
This is a critical step towards addressing the challenges food and fibre employers have attracting, training, and retaining a diverse range of people with the right skills.
The proposed actions initially focus on the agriculture and horticulture industries, including meat and dairy processing. They do not cover the fishing or forestry sectors (forestry will have its own action plan released in 2020) or other processing industries. However, close connections and shared challenges are recognised across all food and fibre sectors.
Robust governance, management, and funding arrangements are required to successfully implement the action plan and ensure that food and fibre skills needs are met.
To achieve this, the action plan proposes the establishment of a food and fibre skills partnership group. This will oversee the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the action plan.
In the interim, an industry-led establishment group has been set up to engage with the wider food and fibre sector, government, and Māori stakeholders to progress the plan.
- Beef + Lamb New Zealand
- Federated Farmers
- Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA)
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
- Ministry of Education (MoE)
- Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
- New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM)
- New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association (NZSCA)
- New Zealand Apples & Pears
- New Zealand Wine
- New Zealand Young Farmers
- Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA)
- Primary ITO
- Primary Sector Council
- Seafood New Zealand
- Tertiary Education Commission (TEC)
Forestry and wood processing workforce action plan 2020-2024
The action plan aims to support the development of a skilled, safe, diverse workforce. It was developed by the government and industry in 2019.
The forest industry includes:
- planting and tree maintenance
- wood treatment operators.
A plan to achieve workforce goals
The sector is facing a number of workforce challenges. We can achieve our goals by working together and building on initiatives already underway and starting some new projects.
The Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council will oversee the action plan. But all parts of the industry need to be involved in making the plan happen.
The council will work with the Food and Fibre Skills Establishment Group. This group is working on the Food and fibre skills action plan. Together, they'll look at workforce actions that benefit all primary sector industries.
The Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Working Group
To ensure the forestry and wood processing sector has the workforce it needs now and in the future, Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service formed the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Working Group. This group of industry leaders is helping us formulate a plan of action to attract, train, and retain the skilled workforce the forestry and wood processing sector needs.
The role of the working group
The working group was formed to develop a workforce action plan for the forestry and wood processing sector.
The working group members
The working group is chaired by MPI, who also provides secretariat support. The working group is made up of industry organisations and government agencies with interest and expertise in forestry and wood processing sector skills. The members include:
- Sharon Cox, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
- Alfred Duval, Future Foresters
- David Evison, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury and New Zealand Institute of Forestry
- Ruth Fairhall, (chair, May to August 2019), Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service
- Fraser Field, Rayonier Matariki Forests
- Jivan Grewal, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
- Jeff Ilott, New Zealand Timber Industry Federation
- Richard Lynch, Ministry for Primary Industries
- Glen Mackie, New Zealand Forest Owners Association
- Mark Preece, Competenz
- Antonia Reid, (chair, September to December 2019), Ministry for Primary Industries
- Thea Wallace, Ministry for Primary Industries
- Prue Younger, Forest Industry Contractors Association
MPI publishes or funds teacher resources and classroom activities each year. These focus on the primary industries, biosecurity, and food safety. We put together sets of learning activities that teachers can use for subjects like mathematics, science, social studies, and technology.