Attraction and retention are key issues for the Sheep, Beef, Deer, and Wool industry. A lack of clear pathways for new entrants remains a challenge for the industry, alongside qualifications not keeping up with changing technology.

The industry has an aging workforce, with 43% of the workforce aged 55 or over in 2020, and employers need more support to help them better navigate working in an intergenerational environment.

The vocational education system has not been flexible and nimble enough to meet changing industry need.

Support a new training system for wools – Wool Harvesting qualifications

The Wool sub-industry has not had a functioning training system for the last decade. Muka Tangata is working with industry to broker a new flexible, responsive training system for wool harvesting.

Support a set of micro-credentials designed to address new and technical-based skills

The Sheep, Beef, Deer, and Wool industry wants shorter, targeted, and flexible training. Ahead of a major review of the agriculture qualification suite next year, which is shared with the Dairy farming industry, Muka Tangata is developing a set of micro-credentials targeting identified skills gaps.

These are:

  • Planning/organising/project management/business planning
  • Grazing management
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Land use change
  • GHG emissions
  • Body Condition Scoring

Support programmes across all levels that provide leadership/people management skills

Workforce retention is a key area of focus for the industry. Leadership skills, especially people leadership/management skills, are seen as a crucial component to fostering workplaces that retain staff, particularly when the industry is made up of small work teams. Training for these skills is usually reserved for higher level programmes (for example Level 5), but these concepts should be introduced earlier.

Support programmes that provide transferable skills

The industry faces labour shortages. It recognises that having a workforce with transferable skills means that workers can move across the sector, opening up the labour pool for industries and providing options to workers for career paths.

Support programmes that provide health, wellbeing, communication, and self-awareness skills

Sheep, Beef, Deer, and Wool work is often solo or in a small team work in isolated workplaces. Industry is increasingly recognising the need for its workforce to have tools, techniques, and skills, such as communication and self-awareness, skills to maintain their own and other workers good health and wellbeing.

Support residential/group training for pre-employment

An ageing workforce places greater attention on attracting new workers. The industry considers residential and/or group training models to be highly effective in providing a pathway for new entrants into the workforce.

Support programmes that support geographically spread learners via flexible modes of delivery, including online and face-to-face

Isolated workplaces make it difficult for learners to undertake their training. More hybrid models that may include online, but also enable learners to also meet face-to-face in small groups, are required.

Support programmes that train accredited rural professionals

Rural professionals are increasingly an integral part of the industry, transferring new techniques and knowledge to farmers. More formal training is required to increase and upskill the labour pool.


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