TeenAg stu­dents get taste of work

Te Awamutu Courier - - News -

A group of Waikato stu­dents has had a glimpse at the ca­reers on of­fer in the agri­cul­tural con­tract­ing sec­tor.

Mem­bers of the Te Awa­mutu Col­lege TeenAg club have toured the work­shop and de­pot of John Austin.

The com­pany em­ploys about 100 peo­ple dur­ing peak pe­ri­ods when crops are planted and har­vested.

“It was our club’s first field trip,” said Year 10 stu­dent Ja­cob Tet­ley-Jones.

Stu­dents wear­ing hi-vis vests got to in­spect the com­pany’s ma­chin­ery, which is fit­ted with the lat­est GPS tech­nol­ogy.

“Their planters are re­ally high-tech. They shut off au­to­mat­i­cally if they go over an area that has al­ready been planted,” said Ja­cob.

Ja­cob is study­ing agri­cul­ture and hor­ti­cul­ture and is in­ter­ested in be­com­ing an agri­cul­tural con­trac­tor.

The in­dus­try is in dire need of young peo­ple with the right skills and at­tributes.

“There is a short­age of New Zealand work­ers with the abil­ity and pas­sion to do the job,” said He­len Slat­tery, vice-pres­i­dent of Ru­ral Con­trac­tors NZ.

She and hus­band Roger run a Waikato con­tract­ing busi­ness.

He­len said the sec­tor cur­rently has to rely on driv­ers from coun­tries like Ire­land and United King­dom to meet de­mand.

“As an in­dus­try, we’re work­ing to im­prove the train­ing and qual­i­fi­ca­tions we have on of­fer,” said He­len.

“Train­ing is es­sen­tial. Driv­ers can of­ten be work­ing on hilly ter­rain and we want to en­sure they make safely.”

He­len’s tips for young peo­ple keen to en­ter the in­dus­try are sim­ple: Get a driver’s li­cence and have a good work ethic.

“Our con­trac­tors will al­ways find room for pas­sion­ate young peo­ple who are too young to drive on the road,” she said.

“They of­ten help with main­te­nance. It’s im­por­tant they know how to com­plete a daily check of a trac­tor’s fluid lev­els, fuel, tyres and com­puter sys­tem.”

Once the ba­sics are mas­tered the op­por­tu­ni­ties are end­less and can in­clude work­ing over­seas in it home the off sea­son.

“It’s hard, of­ten dirty work and the hours are long. But if you’re pas­sion­ate, agri­cul­tural con­tract­ing is an awe­some life­style,” said He­len.

TeenAg clubs are run by NZ Young Farm­ers and funded by the Red Meat Profit Part­ner­ship (RMPP).

Photo / Sup­plied

John shows TeenAg stu­dents around work­shop.

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