Cadet scheme re­turn called for

Farm­ing lead­ers keen to see bet­ter trained farm work­ers

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

The much-mourned Farm Cadet Scheme could be on the way back in re­sponse to farmer de­mand for a higher-qual­ity, bet­ter-trained work­force.

New Pri­mary In­dus­try Train­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Jef­fries has ac­cepted a chal­lenge from some Waikato farm­ing lead­ers un­happy with the stan­dard of farm staff train­ing.

He is ini­ti­at­ing talks with Fed­er­ated Farm­ers to test de­mand for a new ‘‘gold stan­dard’’ cadet train­ing pro­gramme and how it would be funded.

But Jef­fries makes it clear any re­ju­ve­na­tion of the cadet scheme will rely on a strong part­ner­ship with farm­ers.

He said ex­pec­ta­tions will be on farm­ers to ful­fil train­ing stan­dards as well as on trainees.

Jef­fries’ un­der­tak­ing to start dis­cus­sions with Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ na­tional of­fice fol­lows his attendance at a Waikato dairy in­dus­try group meet­ing after calls from lo­cal fed­er­a­tion lead­ers to bring back the cadet scheme.

The orig­i­nal scheme, a three­year course where cadets stud­ied for trade cer­tifi­cates with prac­ti­cal train­ing pro­vided by ap­proved farm­ers, was founded by Fed­er­ated Farm­ers in 1974.

Fund­ing as­sis­tance was from the then Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture. Train­ing of­fi­cers ran the scheme.

It was ex­panded in 1976 to in­clude the equine and hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­tries and within 10 years there were 1600 cadets.

But by 1988 num­bers had fallen to 1000 in an agri­cul­ture down­turn trig­gered by the re­moval of sub­si­dies.

In 1990 the Farm Ed­u­ca­tion Train­ing As­so­ci­a­tion took over the scheme from Fed­er­ated Farm­ers and in 1995 the as­so­ci­a­tion be­came the Agri­cul­ture In­dus­try Train­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion, which ex­panded ac­tiv­i­ties and launched the first mod­ern ap­pren­tice­ships in 2000, of­fer­ing 50 qual­i­fi­ca­tions across a range of sec­tors.

Waikato dairy lead­ers last month said they were frus­trated with the stan­dard of ITO trainees, who of­ten could do only one task, such as drive a trac­tor or milk cows.

Farm­ers needed staff who could ‘‘ do ev­ery­thing’’, which the old farm cadet scheme pro­duced, they said.

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