Girls out­num­ber boys on this farm

South Waikato News - - Your Health - LIBBY WIL­SON

The agri­cul­ture in­dus­try is look­ing for more skilled workers but men still vastly out­num­ber women in the zone.

Yet that’s not the case in a Hamil­ton agri­cul­ture class, where num­bers tilt the other way.

Nine young women and eight men fin­ished the lat­est round of the Na­tional Cer­tifi­cate in Agri­cul­ture Level 2, of­fered through Trainme.

The prospect of get­ting out of the class­room at­tracted Mor­rinsville’s An­gel Ryan, 17, de­spite limited ex­pe­ri­ence in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

‘‘I’ve done milk­ing a cou­ple of times and that’s pretty much it,’’ she said.

Quad bike train­ing was a favourite part of the course for her, and ‘‘just get­ting out of the course and go­ing into different en­vi­ron­ments on the farms’’.

She was pleased girls out­num­bered guys.

‘‘The boys used to say that girls can do cer­tain jobs and boys can do the oth­ers but a cou­ple of times us girls proved the boys wrong with do­ing their job right.’’

Ryan can see her­self work­ing part time in agri­cul­ture in the fu­ture, and the sec­tor won over course-mate Chance Tain­gahue, 19 – now mak­ing plans for a ca­reer in it.

This comes in a cli­mate where agri­cul­ture in­dus­try play­ers be­moan the lack of grad­u­ates and the Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced it wants to dou­ble ex­port re­turns by 2025.

Yet women are a mi­nor­ity in agri­cul­ture, forestry and fish­ing, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics New Zealand fig­ures.

The sec­tor em­ployed 50,900 women and 112,500 men in March 2016.

So new re­cruits to the in­dus­try have the sup­port of those al­ready in it.

‘‘Dairy women are get­ting a lot more in­volved and a lot more vo­cal about it,’’ Dairy Women’s Net­work North Waikato re­gional con­venor Jodie Goudswaard said.

She and hus­band Carl sharemilk 450 cows near Te Kauwhata.

Her do­main on the farm is of­fice-type work, in­clud­ing health and safety, hu­man re­la­tions and fi­nance man­age­ment – as well as pitch­ing in for calv­ing and re­lief milk­ing.

Ex­pe­ri­enced dairy workers are hard to find at the mo­ment, she said, so some train on the job.

‘‘It’s an em­ploy­ees’ mar­ket out there in dairy farm­ing. If you come in and work hard and train hard then you’ll have no trou­ble get­ting a job... And you typ­i­cally get a house as part of it.’’

Another dairy woman is Jade Mill­ner who, with hus­band Bobby, won the share farmer cat­e­gory of the 2016 Waikato Dairy In­dus­try Awards.

‘‘Don’t be fright­ened off by that sway to­wards male dom­i­na­tion at the mo­ment,’’ she said.

‘‘Just work hard at what you do and prove yourself on the farm and em­ploy­ers notice that.’’

The Mill­ners struck it lucky with the first peo­ple they worked for – Mata­mata’s Steve and Tr­ish Atkin­son be­came their men­tors.

The cou­ple are now 50:50 sharemilk­ing 270 jer­sey cows just north of Mor­rinsville, and Jade also does some ac­count­ing work as a side earner.

The Na­tional Cer­tifi­cate in Agri­cul­ture Level 2 is a free, 18 week course in­tended for teenagers dis­en­gaged with the school­ing sys­tem.

PHOTO: KELLY HODEL/FAIR­FAX NZ

Guys nor­mally out­num­ber girls in an in­tro to agri­cul­ture course of­fered in Hamil­ton. But this se­mes­ter fe­males out­num­bered the males by one. Pic­tured from left are Brenda Pairama, 17, Mina Te Hana,16, Oof (Cheyanne) Murch, 17, Sa­mara Nor­ling, 17, An­gel Ryan, 17, Jas­mine Mil­ton, 17, Haylee Mad­den, 16, and Chance Tain­gahue, 19.

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