The new Agribusiness subject being championed by Hamilton’s St Paul’s Collegiate School is critical to ensure New Zealand’s primary industries maintain their edge on a world stage, especially in a TPP environment.
Waikato Milking Systems is one of a number of business partners of this exciting St Paul’s initiative and CEO, Dean Bell, is concerned New Zealand will not be able to fully utilise the increased opportunities for trade, productivity and competitiveness which will come from TPP, if the country doesn’t have highly skilled future leaders for its biggest export earner.
“We need to provide our best and brightest students with an academically focused agribusiness curriculum which will enable them to be those future leaders.
“The economy is shifting from commodity, low value items to innovative, specialised high value technologies which will be in demand around the world and which will fuel the country’s export earnings. If we’re to maintain or grow our place in the global market-place we need to think differently about the way we view careers in primary industries, and reflect this at an early stage in the education of our young people.
“For too long agricultural subjects and courses have tended to be vocational and haven’t been pitched to attract young people across a wide spectrum of skills – commerce, science, engineering, technology, IT to name a few, denying young people a wide choice of careers in an industry which has limitless potential.
“We want NZ’s brightest and best involved in the primary export sector and to get that talent we need a rigorous and engaging curriculum, which is why Waikato Milking Systems is investing and actively supporting the St Paul’s Agribusiness initiative” Dean Bell said.
Peter Hampton, St Paul’s Collegiate School’s Deputy Headmaster and Director of Agribusiness said a new achievement standards based Agribusiness subject at NCEA levels 2 and 3 is currently being developed at St Paul’s Collegiate School.
“The school is working with the Ministry of Education and NZQA towards having Agribusiness approved with university entrance status and the intention is to have a fully resourced Agribusiness teaching and learning programme available to all New Zealand secondary schools by 2018.
“Students taking part in the course enter with strong Sciences and/or Commerce backgrounds and will learn from four key strands, Agri-science, Agri-innovation, Agri-marketing and Agri-finance and management. A key focus will be on educating students about possible career pathways and opportunities within the agribusiness sectors.
“Our agribusiness pilot was trialed in 2014 with 48 of our top academic students, 15 of whom have gone on to study agribusiness at a tertiary level. This year 88 students are participating and seriously considering a career in the agribusiness industries.”
Eight lead schools have signed up for a national trial in 2017 - Southland Boys High School, Southland Girls High School, John McGlashan College (Otago), Christchurch Boys High School, Feilding High School (Manawatu), Lindisfarne College (Hawkes Bay), Mt Albert Grammar, (Auckland) and St Paul’s Collegiate School (Waikato).
“Each lead school is in a major province and will work with local business and their community to raise the profile and potential of the primary industry sector for their young people,” Peter Hampton said.
“The concept has attracted interest from a further 40 schools around New Zealand and we are confident that this will grow to over 100 schools which would mean the number of students going on to graduate with tertiary qualifications designed for the primary industry sector would multiply quickly.”
Peter Hampton reiterated Dean Bell’s concerns. “The primary sector is New Zealand’s biggest exporter and its relevance will only continue. We need to be thinking 20 years ahead to ensure the people leading the industry are the brightest and best – and that starts today by providing young people with an agribusiness programme which will challenge and appeal.
“The initiative has the potential to be a real game changer for the primary sector.”