Four Silver Fern Farms employees celebrated becoming the first people in New Zealand to complete the brand new Primary ITO Export Boning (Sheep & Lamb) apprenticeship at a special awards ceremony at the Silver Fern Farms Fairton plant.
“We’re really proud of our four employees, they’ve stuck at it and put in a lot of hard work,” says Francis Renner, personnel officer for Silver Fern Farms.
One of the four to be awarded their certificates by Primary ITO chief executive Mark Jeffries was Tane Manahi, who says he felt humbled and proud to achieve the apprenticeship.
“It feels really good to be one of the first people in the country to achieve it as well and now other people have the opportunity to get involved,” he says, adding that the bookwork and theory was a challenge, as he doesn’t generally do a lot of that in his day role.
“I really enjoyed it though because I think you should exercise the body as well as the mind.”
Working in a team with the other apprentices supporting and motivating each other gave him a sense of camaraderie.
Brian Waltham, Primary ITO’s food processing account manager, believes it’s vital for companies to invest in the training and development of their employees.
“This apprenticeship programme contains a package of training encompassing health and safety, food safety and hygiene, knife skills, optimising yield, delivery of on-the-job training, self-management, conflict management and export boning techniques. It was designed to give export boners the opportunity to progress in the meat processing industry.”
He says the qualification enables employees to gain a greater depth of understanding about the company they’re working for, “which can be incredibly motivating.”
Silver Fern Farms was picked to trial the new apprenticeship programme with Primary ITO because “they’re a progressive company who are committed to the progression of their staff,” says Waltham.
The meat industry earns over 13 percent of New Zealand’s export revenue and employs around 25,000 people.
This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (December/January 2014) and is reproduced here with permission.