Fortune favours the bold; innovators will flourish

28 Sep 2017

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New Zealand has recently topped a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, which measured the extent to which young people in 35 countries learn six key skills. We came out ahead thanks to our university-industry collaboration, a curriculum that takes skills for the future into account, and an outstanding quality of education and teaching environment.

Focusing on information rather than rote-learning, the study says that the key skills needed to flourish are interdisciplinary skills, creative and analytical skills, entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills, digital and technical skills, and global awareness and civic education. 

The need for holistic educational techniques is highlighted, especially project-based learning, where students grapple with a subject in-depth and with reference to several academic disciplines, without over-reliance on memorisation and rote-learning. Essentially, those who develop independent thought while being willing to take risks will succeed over those who don’t.

One of our key focal points in horticulture is attracting new talent to an industry that is not only exciting, but at the cutting edge of technological developments. As horticulture rapidly adopts innovative tech, such as robotics, and moves to provide sustainable diets based on plant-based proteins, this new crop of innovators and creatives are exactly the kind of people we need in our industry. 

Of the $3 billion spent on education in New Zealand, only $100 million is spent directly on primary sector training; in context, that’s just over 3%. Doubtless that should be more, especially considering the massive contribution that the primary sector makes to the New Zealand economy; 60% of our $70 billion exports come from the primary sector.

The growth is happening, and the demand for this new generation is growing.                            

And although only $100 million is spent directly on primary sector training, we also want to attract the students doing other subjects as well, like chemical and biological sciences, mathematics, accounting, English, marketing; we’re a varied industry, and we need varied skill sets, especially from those who have learned the art of independent thought. 

When those students study, they can use horticultural examples as part of this, bringing our industry into touch within all aspects of life. The Ministry for Primary Industries recently embraced this, designing learning activities for mathematics, science, social studies, and technology, all of which use the Seasonal Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) as a basis for education.

The message is there; the innovative will flourish, and there is an exciting future for them in horticulture.


- Mike Chapman, CEO