Federated Farmers Board member and Wairarapa farmer Karen Williams attended a meeting on the future of agricultural training in the Wairarapa.

Wheels are moving.

After much disappointment from the community, industry and local leaders around the liquidation of Taratahi, what is critical now is that we collectively look forward to how we can best provide for agricultural training and skills in the Wairarapa.

On Monday night a meeting was held on the future of agricultural training and skills in Wairarapa – a primary industries-heavy region.

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This discussion was incredibly relevant to other areas throughout the country.

The trades and primary industries keep much of New Zealand afloat and provide employment pathways for many of our young people.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

The meeting was chaired by Dame Margaret Bazley, the chair of the steering group for the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, who are charged with the implementation of the recently completed plan.

The meeting was attended by the region's mayor, educators from within and outside the region, farmers, and primary industry leaders including the chief executive of Federated Farmers Terry Copeland.

We were there to talk about what the future of agriculture in the Wairarapa might look like, what training and skills are likely to be required, and how might we achieve this.

This feedback was captured to inform the preparation of a skills development strategy.

Discussion included future land use changes, considering the possibility of more trees and niche crops and less livestock, and a more sustainable way of operating where we have more interconnected or 'circular' industries to absorb our by-products.

What was very clear in discussion, particularly this week, was the need for an adequate and reliable water source for the Wairarapa's future prosperity.

We talked of what was needed education-wise.

Voice was given to the importance of what is seen as softer skills, co-operation, relationship building, communication, and tenacity.

We need people coming in to employment to not be just armed with reading, writing and arithmetic – we need them to come with mental resilience tools.

We need them to be able to deal with constant change and rejection.

People can no longer expect to hold one type of job, but should develop skills that can be transferable across a multitude of career opportunities.

Training will therefore have to be ongoing and not just targeted at the school leavers, something the broader education industry will need to provide for.

The meeting was positive, and was really well supported by the three district councils.

People are energised to make sure the Wairarapa has the right building blocks in place to build a meaningful future for its primary industry trainees, and a bright future for the agricultural sector in Wairarapa.