Te Puke High School students were among a group of around 280 who were part of the annual Cultivate Your Career event recently.

Organised by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI), the event inspires students to consider the Bay of Plenty's booming horticulture industry.

The event introduces secondary school students to industry professionals, and the skills they need to transition into horticulture employment.

Students toured local companies ranging from Xerra Space Observation Institute, where they investigated how soil moisture can be measured from space, to Savvy HR where they learnt about how they might fit into the workplace.

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"Cultivate Your Career is a great opportunity to display the high-level careers in a range of scientific, technical and commercial areas," said event organiser Renee Fritchley of NZKGI.

"We love surprising students about the cutting-edge industries right here in the Bay of Plenty. The science lab at Eurofins and the automation at Apata and MPAC are great examples of how the kiwifruit industry is progressing into the future."

Te Puke High School students Laura Morgan (left) and Elyssa Russell during the recent Cultivate Your Career event.
Te Puke High School students Laura Morgan (left) and Elyssa Russell during the recent Cultivate Your Career event.

Each bus transporting the students had two industry ambassadors on board who talked about their own careers.

Two groups of Te Puke High School students went on separate circuits, one with a science focus, and one with a business focus. Teachers Patrick Martin and Steph Davids accompanied the groups.

"The Science students found the use of space satellite data now and in the future very interesting, and also the high levels of technology used in the orchard and packhouse," says Patrick.

Students spent over an hour at each business, viewing diverse operations such as honey processing at BeeNZ and the latest in packing technology at Jenkins Freshpac Systems. They also learnt about the associated careers available in the industry.

Horticulture is New Zealand's fourth largest primary industry with an export revenue increasing steadily each year from $1.7 billion in 1999 to around $5.5 billion in 2018.

For Cultivate Your Career the Bay of Plenty's horticulture industry comes together to ensure there will be enough skilled labour for this growth in the future.

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