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Bringing the next generation into the seafood industry

Friday 5 March 2021

Education is on the minds of industry, the government, and multiple agencies right now and being fuelled by the changing COVID-19 environment.

The seafood industry, backed by co-funding by the government, is actively recruiting New Zealanders into the industry through the Opportunity Grows Here campaign. While this was initiated to encourage those who lost jobs during the pandemic into the industry it is now targeting a much wider audience.

Additionally, work is underway to develop seafood modules to go into the Ag-Business curriculum, which will be a first for the industry.

Separately the Marine Stewardship Council has developed a school programme, Te Kawa O Tangaroa, for learners in years 7-10, based around sustainable fishing and aquaculture.

On the West Coast, a one-year, Friday-only course is to be offered to all high school students to interest them and prepare them for further study at the Westport Deepsea Fishing School. They will learn about health and safety, fishing terminology, equipment repair, and maintenance and unloading skills. The West Coast Commercial Fishing Programme is a local initiative by North Beach Fishing and is now part of the West Coast Trades Academy.

Nationally, apprenticeships have also been launched.

The Primary ITO, supported by the Seafood Industry Partnership Group, has recently completed the development of two new seafood apprenticeship programmes.

An apprenticeship in Seafood Processing and an apprenticeship in Commercial Fishing.

The Seafood Processing apprenticeship has two focus areas; production supervision and quality assurance and is suitable for those working in seafood processing operations on land or at sea.

The Commercial Fishing apprenticeship covers wild shellfish, wet fish and frozen fish. It has options within it to ensure it covers the full range of fishing methods, vessel types and related activities - and for larger vessels, factory technicians.

The apprenticeships are designed to ensure employees have the right skills to succeed in their chosen fields but also to provide integrity around our assertion that the seafood industry offers great career opportunities. It is important to note that the commercial fishing apprenticeship does not cover maritime licensing qualifications.

Both apprenticeships are eligible for the TEC Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) which provides funding for training delivery when an external trainer or provider is used.  The Apprenticeship Boost fund administered by the Ministry for Social Development is also available and provides additional financial support to employers who take on apprentices. 

The employer and trainee need to sign up to the Primary ITO and more information can be found here.

The Primary ITO is also working on developing apprenticeships for the aquaculture sector.

There are smaller seafood-targeted training programmes available as well, for those who do not necessarily want to sign up to the full apprenticeship.

It has long been acknowledged that our workforce needs invigorating. That we need to encourage young people into the seafood industry.

A serious and multi-pronged effort is currently being made to do just that.

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