Farmers are already signing up to host the Northland rural industry's newest on-farm internship.
The farmers are part of growing regional support for the new Whangarei A&P Society Farm Intern Programme. The first students in the programme are expected to take up their internships in February.
More than 40 people last week expressed interest in the new programme, 30 of these attending a special meeting in Barge Park, Whangarei, for potential farm hosts to find out more about the new internships, said A&P society chief executive Chris Mason.
Beef and dairy farmers from Wellsford to Dargaville and Kaitaia are showing interest. Those who commit will be hosting intern students for two years. "It's great to see the enthusiasm for the programme," Mason said.
Potential students — from country and city — are also lining up for the internship, already putting their names forward as well.
Students will learn a wide range of skills during their on-the-job internship. They'll work on farm, leaving their host properties once a week for a communal class focused on specific topics. Opportunity exists for shared on-farm learning during which students visit participating farms at times of high workload to share the tasks at hand.
Farmers involved will meet quarterly as well.
Students need to be 18-24 years old to be part of the internship.
"We want to provide the right skills and instil the right attitudes so interns are job ready, employable in the industry while also being 'good citizens'," Mason said.
These skills are broad and include chainsaws, milking cows, shearing and knowing how to cook things like a roast or porridge.
Mason said nutrition and learning to look after themselves was an important part of being a successful farm worker.
Two-minute noodles would not sustain a day's farm work, Mason said.
Wanganui-based Land Based Training will carry out the Northland intern training programme. (Its work along the same lines has been highlighted on Country Calendar in a programme on Otiwhiti Station, Hunterville.)
The internship has already been generally promoted to Northland schools through their industry's annual careers expo for training providers and roadshow earlier this year. Further promotion will start with students in September.
The next step in the process of setting up the new Northland internship is formalising links with farmers who express interest.
Mason said she was pleased with how the new internship opportunity was developing.
There was a general sense among Northland farmers interested in hosting that there was a need to step up to play their part in what is a recognised labour shortage in the sector.
The Northland development is being watched with interest in other parts of New Zealand.