MPI has developed several initiatives to address the problem of staff shortage in the primary sectors, a spokesman says.

''Developing the skills, capability and leadership of our primary industries workforce is a priority for the Government and MPI.

''For the primary sector to continue to grow, we need a strong skills pipeline and a more highly skilled primary sector workforce.''

Information gaps, perception issues, and sometimes, the reality of employment conditions in the primary industries made it difficult to attract people into primary sector education and employment.

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Primary sector education and training is not universally fit for purpose, accessible or backed by industry.

Difficulties upskilling people, developing transferable skills, changes in technology, and pay and employment conditions could make it difficult to retain staff.

''MPI is working closely with other government departments, industry organisations and industry education organisations to tackle these problems.''

To attract people to the sector, MPI:

• Is a member of the Primary Industries Capability Alliance (PICA), an industry, education and government alliance providing information, activities and resources to support attracting people into rewarding primary sector careers.

• Has worked with industry organisations to develop and embed primary industries resources into schools.

• Sponsors Learnz.org.nz to provide virtual field trips, taking pupils on virtual learning adventures within the primary industries from their classroom.

To ensure we have the right skills, MPI:

• Funds scholarships for Maori and women, which will help to increase the number of highly skilled people in the forestry sector. Eight were awarded this year.

• Provides funds for skills development initiatives through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund and the One Billion Tree Partnership Grant.

• Works with other government agencies to ensure primary industries perspectives are heard during major policy reforms.

To tackle poor employment conditions, MPI launched, in partnership with Agriculture and Marketing Research Development Trust (AGMARDT), the Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

This year MPI created the Primary Industries Skills Leaders Working Group to develop a plan of action to:

• Attract people to work in the sector.

• Ensure we have fit for purpose education, training and development; and
help our primary sector employers to provide lifelong rewarding careers for their employees.

MPI is also setting up a forestry industry working group to develop a multi-year plan to attract, develop and retain the workforce needed to create the conditions for a sustainable sector that has momentum to grow and adapt.