Night classes are now being offered at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre in Stratford, as part of the organisation's drive to make training more accessible to people who want to enter the agricultural industry.
Taratahi's Taranaki regional manager Leanne Richards says that while many businesses have experienced hard times in the recession, agriculture remains a strong employer.
"More and more people are starting to appreciate the opportunities that agriculture offers them and since partnering with WITT, we have seen demand for our programmes increase 350 per cent across the region."
Taratahi established its first Taranaki campus on the Stratford Demonstration Farm in 2004. It partnered with the Western Institute for Technology at Taranaki in 2010 and has since extended its training throughout the region.
"We now have campuses in Central, South and North Taranaki, supported by farms which we either manage or contract milk on, and we have recently commenced offering part-time training options in Rahotu on the coast," says Leanne.
She says some experts estimate that the industry needs around 6000 new entrants annually to survive and prosper.
"Improving accessibility to training will help ensure that those new entrants get off to the right start."
Taratahi has a portfolio of fulltime and part time agricultural programmes which start in school with the Primary Industry Trade Academy and go all the way through to the Lincoln Diploma in Agriculture, which Taratahi delivers in partnership with Lincoln University.
The night classes, which run 7pm to 9pm on Wednesdays, focus predominantly on theory based subjects such as Feed Budgeting, Soils and Fertilisers, Animal Health and Welfare and Calf Rearing.