Com­ment: Col­lab­o­ra­tion at the heart of busi­ness suc­cess

The Orchardist - - Contents -

In the pro­duc­tion hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try where skilled and knowl­edge­able staff are ab­so­lutely vi­tal to a pro­duc­tive and prof­itable busi­ness, col­lab­o­ra­tion holds the key to suc­cess ac­cord­ing to Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand busi­ness man­ager Sue Pick­er­ing. “Peo­ple are so im­por­tant in our in­dus­try,” says Sue, who’s been at HortNZ since its in­cep­tion in 2006 af­ter start­ing her ca­reer in the early 90s at the New Zealand Fruit­grow­ers Fed­er­a­tion. “Of­ten the largest bill in or­gan­i­sa­tions is the wages bill. We’re a labour in­ten­sive in­dus­try that’s heav­ily re­liant on hav­ing the right staff with the right skills – ca­pa­ble and mo­ti­vated. In the past we haven’t fo­cused enough on peo­ple ca­pa­bil­ity but the time is now. The merger be­tween AgITO and Hort ITO to form Pri­mary ITO has re­sulted in our in­dus­try train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion boast­ing a larger mass, shared re­sources and a re­newed ap­proach. This means there’s a plat­form of op­por­tu­nity avail­able. Let’s grasp it with both hands.” “As well as the de­vel­op­ment of cur­rent em­ploy­ees and em­ploy­ers, we must at­tract peo­ple to our sec­tor.We need clear ca­reer path­ways and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­sure pro­duc­tion hor­ti­cul­ture is an at­trac­tive choice for young peo­ple and in fact, peo­ple of all ages.”

The job is huge but Sue be­lieves the an­swer lies in col­lab­o­ra­tion and work­ing to­gether with or­gan­i­sa­tions who share vi­sions and goals and an ob­vi­ous choice in the area of work-based train­ing is the Pri­mary ITO. “HortNZ and our other in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tions share com­mon goals with Pri­mary ITO who want to in­crease the num­ber of peo­ple in our in­dus­try gain­ing skills, in turn en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of staff and there­fore the per­for­mance of the busi­ness. The in­dus­try re­alises this is vi­tal to suc­cess.The sta­tis­tics show we have a low num­ber of peo­ple in­volved in for­mal train­ing. There are ap­prox­i­mately 641 en­rolled in veg­etable and fruit pro­duc­tion qual­i­fi­ca­tions through Pri­mary ITO which is low in terms of num­bers in the in­dus­try.”

“I think we’re at a point where the in­dus­try recog­nise there’s a skills gap and some­thing must be done.” In terms of mech­a­nisms to lever­age col­lab­o­ra­tion, Pri­mary ITO’s In­dus­try Part­ner­ships (IPGs) sit at the heart of this ap­proach. When the new ITO came into fruition it pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to re­view the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s gov­er­nance struc­ture. So a new con­sti­tu­tion is be­ing adopted to en­sure the many in­dus­tries the or­gan­i­sa­tion is serv­ing are well rep­re­sented, from veg­etable pro­duc­tion to viti­cul­ture to fruit pro­duc­tion.

The core func­tion of the IPGs is to en­sure in­dus­try train­ing re­quire­ments are heard and met by the ITO. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from each IPG also sits on a Stake­holder Coun­cil (which con­nects in di­rectly with the ITO Board). The fo­cus of each IPG is the train­ing needs of their in­dus­try. “The key to our on­go­ing suc­cess is work­ing along­side well-con­nected in­dus­try

peo­ple to de­liver on our man­date,” says Kevin Bryant, Pri­mary ITO Chief Ex­ec­u­tive.

“The thing with col­lab­o­ra­tion is that it’s not al­ways easy, you have to share a bit of turf and give up things for the greater good.”

“Mem­bers be­long to IPG’s to rep­re­sent their in­dus­try needs, such as pro­vid­ing con­sul­ta­tion on prod­uct and qual­i­fi­ca­tions de­vel­op­ment and on help­ing the ITO un­der­stand cur­rent and fu­ture train­ing needs in the sec­tor the IPG rep­re­sents,” Mr Bryant says.

Sue is proud to be the Chair of the ‘Veg­etable and other Fruit’ IPG. “There are some lead­ing play­ers get­ting in­volved with the IPGs and to work with those di­rectly in the busi­ness such as Richard Burke, CE of Leader­brand, and Nick Tay­lor, Po­tato grower, He­len Ewan, Turn­ers and Grow­ers and Jan Bott from AS Wilcox & Sons is a great priv­i­lege and key to suc­cess.”

In terms of other IPG groups rep­re­sent­ing the hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tor there’s a Pipfruit IPG, Ki­wifruit and Avocado IPG, Nurs­ery Pro­duc­tion IPG, Amenity Hor­ti­cul­ture IPG and a Wine and a Viti­cul­ture IPG. There are no lim­its to the num­ber of IPGs, but mem­ber num­bers of each IPG are lim­ited to 15 rep­re­sen­ta­tives. New in­dus­tries, with the ap­proval of the board, are able to join and form their own IPG and share equal rights and ben­e­fits with oth­ers “The ITO and in­dus­try have been work­ing very hard to get th­ese groups go­ing and en­sur­ing the in­dus­try voice is heard,” says Sue. She be­lieves IPGs “help us get to get to the nitty gritty of what we need in our train­ing through the ITO. It pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss openly and frankly what’s go­ing well and what’s not go­ing well.”

The first ‘Veg­etable and Other Fruit’ IPG meet­ing took place re­cently and in­cluded Pri­mary ITO Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Kevin Bryant. “We had open di­a­logue. There’s a con­certed ef­fort on both sides and we’re look­ing for so­lu­tions. We’ve got ac­tions on the ta­ble now. One of our key fo­cuses is de­vel­op­ing the busi­ness man­age­ment skillset of our man­agers and busi­ness own­ers from Level 4 and above.We must en­sure we have well per­form­ing lead­ers and man­agers in our in­dus­try to en­sure our grower busi­nesses are pro­duc­tive and prof­itable. The Na­tional Diploma in Agribusi­ness Man­age­ment in rolling out to the hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tor so this is a fan­tas­tic step in the right di­rec­tion,” Sue says.

“Mem­bers of our IPG are also ex­cited about TRoQ (Tar­geted Re­view of Qual­i­fi­ca­tions),” Sue con­tin­ues.

The Tar­geted Re­view of Qual­i­fi­ca­tion is a na­tion-wide process in­sti­gated by New Zealand Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Au­thor­ity (NZQA). The ra­tio­nale be­hind this is sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the qual­i­fi­ca­tion frame­work to en­sure there are no du­pli­cate or over­lap­ping qual­i­fi­ca­tions, and also a drive to ra­tio­nalise the num­ber of qual­i­fi­ca­tions listed on the New Zealand Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Frame­work.

Sue is also a mem­ber of the TRoQ Gov­er­nance Group putting for­ward the in­dus­try per­spec­tive.

“In hor­ti­cul­ture there are cur­rently up to 115 qual­i­fi­ca­tions which is ab­so­lutely con­fus­ing for our em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees. Af­ter many years of ad­vo­cacy on the part of HortNZ and other in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tions NZQA have stepped up and are re­view­ing all the qual­i­fi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing hor­ti­cul­ture. This is a great thing and it’s had in­dus­try buy-in and in­put from the start. A key aim is that TrOq will re­sult in a sys­tem that’s much eas­ier to un­der­stand for our em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees.”

“The beauty of TrOq is that it started the right way with look­ing at what spe­cific jobs there are in our busi­nesses and then the skills re­quired. So it started with the jobs – rather than the end qual­i­fi­ca­tion.” “The first phase has oc­curred, we have sub­mit­ted to NZQA and we’re now wait­ing to hear where they’re got to from there.We’ve got a great ba­sis to work from and it’s an ex­cit­ing time.”

In terms of a col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach, Sue points out that it’s not just about col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pri­mary ITO, but with a range of other or­gan­i­sa­tions too. “The thing with col­lab­o­ra­tion is that it’s not al­ways easy, you have to share a bit of turf and give up things for the greater good. At the end of the day we get out what we put in so in­dus­try and busi­ness have to be proac­tive to take best ad­van­tage of this op­por­tu­nity. I’m a true be­liever in a part­ner­ship ap­proach – if there is a com­mon goal and both par­ties are will­ing. There is no point in re-in­vent­ing the wheel and in this in­dus­try we have lots of chal­lenges to con­tend with such as the weather, a per­ish­able prod­uct and chal­leng­ing mar­kets. So any­thing that can bring to­gether or­gan­i­sa­tions with shared goals to bal­ance out the load is a worth­while, ex­cit­ing and smart way to work.”

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