Food and fibre prospects run hot





New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is working hard to secure the future of the primary industries by trying to attract more young people to choose a career in the sector. The key to attracting Generation Z, loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010, to the sector is raising awareness of opportunities and the range of roles available in the industry, experts say. Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar Madison Pannett, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries as a senior adviser in the animal welfare liaison team, released a report on this subject called Generation Z and the environment — how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers? She says: “I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join. “From my research, I found that Gen Z mainly associates the food and fibre sector careers with roles on-farm and not with the wider opportunities that are available, [so] sector leaders need to tell the story of the scope of rewarding and diverse roles available.” A university well-known for championing food and fibre sector careers is Massey University. Based on the QS World University Ranking system, Massey is ranked No 1 in New Zealand and second in the Southern Hemisphere for its agricultural study programme. The head of Massey’s School of Agriculture and Environment, Paul Kenyon, says the university has a wide range of study options that cover the spectrum from pre to post the farm gate, encompassing animal health and welfare, and the environment — all key interest areas for Gen Z. “What sets us apart is the fact that we have many disciplines together on one site that individually contribute to our agricultural ranking. Obviously, there is our agricultural programme of study, but we also have horticulture, animal science, agribusiness, environmental science, earth science, ecology, food science, and veterinary science, with all groups working . . . collaboratively.” Kenyon says the job prospects are so good for agricultural tertiary students that they need more students to meet industry demand. “Many of our students have roles confirmed halfway through their last year and the majority have roles confirmed before the end of their last year.”