The primary industries sector is expected to need 50,000 extra workers by 2025 and more than 50 per cent of those people will require qualifications.

Another 223,200 employees were likely to exit in the next decade due to natural attrition and would create even more jobs.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the People Powered Future Capability report highlighted increased employment opportunities, however it was critical the workforce was skilled.

"This report is a great snapshot of the future skills that will be required across the sector. It's now up to industry and government to continue working together to attract, train and retain competent, qualified people to work in our primary industries."


The challenge would be to inspire more young people to obtain good qualifications and work in the sector, he said.

New Zealand's primary industries include horticulture, red meat and wool, arable, dairy, seafood, forestry and other primary sectors.

The primary industries bring billions of dollars to the New Zealand economy every year, are responsible for 70 per cent of product exports and account for nearly one in every six jobs. The report says there will be increased demand for highly skilled workers, especially in support services and in management roles across the sectors.

In 2002, only 36 per cent of primary sector workers possessed a post-school qualification. In 2012, it was estimated 44 per cent of workers had a formal post-school qualification. It is expected that by 2025, it would need to increase to 62 per cent.

There was also growing demand for professional skills including business, technical and scientific. To add more value to primary products, more people will be required in science, engineering and technology, the report says.

Primary ITO strategic business development general manager Fred Hardy said the biggest gap in the agriculture sector at the moment was at management level.

GAPS: Fred Hardy
GAPS: Fred Hardy

Its agribusiness training project sought to capture big gains in the dairy industry, he said.

"If we can get 1000 farmers completing formal farm business management qualifications each year, and have these skills used on farms, there is an opportunity to increase the profitability of the industry by over $1 billion per year."


The sector needed people with degrees and qualifications because it was proof they had the skills and knowledge to do the job efficiently and effectively, Mr Hardy said.

The tertiary education giant recently merged with NZITO and more programmes have been introduced to target the meat, dairy and seafood processing industries.

In 2012, 18,660 trainees went through courses nationwide compared with 20,344 in 2013, which included 806 in the Bay of Plenty.

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton said moves were under way in the sector to meet the skills shortage.

About a 1000 new graduates a year would be needed in the industry, he said.

"It's not just the numbers that will challenge us but the big lift in skill levels that we'll need to achieve to drive our sector forward."

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive officer Scott Champion said the report confirmed the need for skilled and innovative farm managers who had the willingness to adopt new technologies.

It acknowledged the red meat and wool sector had declined as the dairy sector expanded. However, export volumes had hardly changed due to increased productivity and heavier lambs.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand had teamed up with Young Farmers and Dairy NZ to create a one-stop career hub to showcase opportunities in the agriculture sector, he said.