Women in agri training
It appears the current dairy downturn is not deterring young Waikato women from agriculture training.
In fact, if enrolments at Waikato-based private training provider TrainMe are anything to go by, young women are lining up in record numbers.
Angel Ryan (17), Chance Taingahue (19) and and Brenda Pairama (17) are among nine 16 to 19-year-old women about to complete TrainMe’s National Certificate in Agriculture Level 2 course this month.
Remarkably, this is a record number of female enrolments since the free 18-week course, intended for teenagers disengaged with the schooling system, was introduced almost three years ago.
“In our current class, more than half are female. We have nine females to eight males,” TrainMe trades school manager Lance Langley said.
“In the past, across the four other semesters the course has been running, only about 35 per cent of enrolled students have been female,” he said.
Langley said that the increase demonstrates a willingness to work hard in a tough climate.
“We recognise that the rural sector doesn’t have it easy at the moment. The increasing number of enrolled females is heartening. These women are hard-workers and have just as much to contribute to the farming industry as men.”
Chance is keen on a career in farming once the course is done.
“Many of us came into this course after completing TrainMe’s #Ultimate, which gave us a taste of lots of short courses all at once.
“Before that, I wasn’t interested in farming at all. I didn’t know what it was like. Many of us just wanted to complete NCEA.
“But since choosing the farming course, we’ve learnt to drive a tractor, quad bikes, and use chainsaws. We’ve volunteered on about five different farms. Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) practices and First Aid are also part of our training.
“I’d assumed farming was boring. And now I’d love to work on a farm in the future,” Chance said.
According to Angel the rising female enrolments show that “farming isn’t just for guys”.
“We’re putting fences up, pulling out ponga trees, we put in as much effort as the guys. We learn from them and they learn from us,” she said.
Lance said it’s great to see once-disengaged students, both male and female, ‘find their place’ on the farm.
“There’s no doubt the farming environment is hard work, but it’s given these teenager’s, both male and female, a purpose, and enabled their confidence to soar.
“These are students who arrive without NCEA Level 1, typically dislike school, and for some, the prospect of further education was once very bleak. They complete our #Ultimate course followed by the Agriculture programme and in one year can come out with three tertiary qualifications and gain NCEA Levels 1 and 2.”
“The learning environment is simultaneously fun, educational and career-focussed. Those who complete the course can go on to further study, or we help arrange employment for them on a farm,” he said.
The dairy downturn hasn’t deterred these Waikato women from agriculture training at TrainMe.