SOUTHLAND youth are being encouraged to “dag a sheep and bag a career” through free, hands-on primary industry training.
YMCA Recreation Southland has run the Primary Industries Programme, which provides practical training for 16-19 year olds, for the past eight years.
Chief executive Vanessa Hughey said the organisation had the “capacity at the moment” to take more students on, and welcomed interest from Southlanders within the age bracket.
“The programme is free, the transport to the learning site is provided we want to take down some of those barriers so more young people have access to primary industry education.”
A YMCA national programme, the motto, “dag a sheep and bag a career”, was aimed at promoting farming and agricultural training for young people.
Students would have the opportunity to gain NZQA Level 1 and 2 qualifications, over a rolling 31-week period, by spending four days a week on the Winton A&P Association Research Farm.
From fencing to handling livestock, health and safety, animal welfare education and learning to operate farm machinery, the programme covered all the bases when it came to working in the primary industries, Ms Hughey said.
Education youth services manager Stacy Hughes said the programme acted as a stepping stone to higher qualifications, offered by the Southern Institute of Technology courses or Telford, as well as a pathway straight into the workforce.
“I think it’s important for our young people because it’s hands-on in-industry training as opposed to being set in a mainstream classroom.”
The only primary industries foundation education provider in Southland, YMCA staff were passionate about setting young people up with NZQA qualifications to enable them to pursue further learning, he said.
“The young people that have graduated from our programme have the skills, knowledge and competency to go straight into the workforce.”
Mr Hughes said literacy and numeracy components were all built into the practical work.
“We’re focused on the destination of our learners and what comes after the programme.”
Many graduates “fold into” seasonal work or jobs at the meat works, and were taken to work-site visits to “expose them to the wider sector”, he said.
Ms Hughey said the programme supported students, some who found the mainstream schooling system did not work for their learning style, through one-on-one learning.