Bay Agricultural Training for School Leavers

March 2013

An option for school leavers wanting to learn about working in agriculture

A brief look at an on-farm agricultural training course in southern Hawkes Bay.

John Bird established Bay Agricultural Training in 2007. John has been a farmer in the district for more than 35 years and about six years ago decided to train people to become farmers and farm workers. He has a team of up to seven tutors that work with him to deliver training modules and theory to students.

In late 2010 Bay Agriculture started a Ministry of Social Development Contract to provide recruitment services in the agriculture sector to young people on a benefit. The courses aim to place young people in employment and give them a kick-start towards a successful career in agriculture. The course is a fully funded programme for youth who are interested in finding work in the agricultural industry and need to learn the basics of farming and the culture surrounding this industry.

The course takes 40 weeks and has a practical and a theory component. The practical takes place on John’s farm and theory courses are held at a venue in Napier.

There are two qualifications involved: National Certificate in Agriculture Core Skills (Level 2) and National Certificate in Agriculture (Level 2) with strands in Cattle Farming, Dairy Farming, Deer Farming, and Sheep Farming.

The tutors cover basic skills that many farmers and farmer’s kids might take for granted: assessing water supply, fixing problems and leaks. They learn skills and safety for tractors, ATVs and motorbikes. There are courses on weed control and identification. The courses also cover basic livestock skills and general animal welfare; learning how to shear sheep, as well as handle and move stock for grazing, etc.

The students are also taught how to install, dismantle, store and erect electric fencing and steel fences and associated fencing knowledge: wire types, storage, tie knots, and identify tools and components. There are also specific cattle, deer, dairy, sheep and beef units.

Bay Ag Training also offer Nomads courses for secondary school pupils as well as “taster” courses in various aspects of practical on-farm skills.

One of the goals is to get the students into work. John and his team offer employers a list of potential people to choose from who fit the right criteria, have a CV and have been screened by the tutors.