More higher qualified workers needed for meat sector, says MPI report

More higher qualified workers will be required for the meat sector in the years to 2025, a new report says.People Powered MPI report

The report – People Powered: future capability needs for the primary industries in New Zealand – funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd, forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary sector in the run up to 2025.

Launching the report, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said, “New Zealand has a proud tradition in the primary industries – it’s an innovative sector that requires our best and brightest across a range of skills. As international markets become more sophisticated and competitive, it is crucial New Zealand’s primary industries keep pace.”

Building on New Zealand’s well-earned reputation for producing high quality export food and fibres will require a changing workforce to keep pace with: evolving and changing consumer demands; the need to maintain and add value; an increase in automation and the use of robotics; more specialised, sophisticated production units on-farm; a growing demand for professional support services such as consultants, rural consultants, veterinarians, plus engineering, robotics, automated processing equipment and in-market services; and the transferability of skills across industries.

By 2025, the red meat sector is expected to increase exports to $13.8 billion as industry moves to a new market mix, caters to the rising middle class in new and emerging markets and the implementation of environmental regulation.

While the red meat and wool workforce is predicted to shrink overall by 5,100 workers between 2012 and 2025, the numbers of those needing to have a formal qualification will rise by 11,400 – lifting the skill base of the sector’s workforce is a critical requirement for achieving the red meat and wool industries strategic targets, the report notes. In 2012, 36 percent of the red meat and wool workforce had a formal post-school qualification, by 2025 forecasts suggest this will need to rise to 55 percent.

Guy commented there is good capacity in New Zealand’s tertiary education system to meet the needs of the primary sector.”The challenge for all of us is to inspire more young people to obtain good qualifications and work in the sector.

“The new primary sector vocational pathway at senior secondary level, the new combined primary sector ITO, the EPIC challenge and dedicated primary sector institutions like Lincoln, Massey, Taratahi and Telford will play a part alongside the industry in achieving this.

“We also have many opportunities, such as the National Fieldays, for industry to showcase itself and entice the next robotic engineer, food scientist or silviculturalist into the engine room of New Zealand’s economy,” said the Minister.

The report forecasts that over, 32,000 trained workers will be needed to replace the natural attrition of workers in the red meat industry and there will be an expansion of jobs in meat wholesaling. However, the number of those employed in meat processing is unlikely to change.

According to the report, highly skilled workers will be in demand, especially in support services and management. Qualifications most needed will be in engineering and and for professional degrees in fields of specialisation aligned with the value chain.

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