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Supporting the ongoing development of the agricultural industry workforce is a long standing commitment that Norwood Farm Machinery Centres across the country contribute to every year.

Our Hawera branch are leading the charge, teaming up with other local industries to help high school teachers understand the many pathways available to provide youth with a working future.

‘Connect17’, a project driven by the South Taranaki Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs, bought together 119 teachers and career advisors and 32 businesses from around the region, as well as five guest speakers from Central and Local Government, ITOs and local employers.

These local businesses opened their doors for one day, giving teachers a hands-on look at what training and career opportunities each could offer to school leavers. Business operators described to teachers the qualifications, skills and personal attributes needed for specific careers, and established those personal contacts that would make referring students more successful.

South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop said the day was all about strengthening relationships between teachers and those creating opportunities for youth in the workforce.

Norwood Farm Machinery Centre’s Taranaki Regional Manager, Mark Sanger, is part of the taskforce committee and knew that his branch had something to offer.

“I have been involved in the Mayors Task Force for Jobs since 2015, after the Mayor became aware of the apprenticeship programme that we’d put together. The decision to become a sponsor for Connect17 and to open our branch doors to local teachers was an easy one.

There’s a multitude of career pathways available through Norwood and the agricultural industry – many more than people often think. Norwood Farm Machinery Centre alone offers five different apprenticeship types across our branches. Any chance we get to showcase this to those who are helping young people make career decisions is something we’ll embrace.”

Sanger and his team gave teachers a complete induction into the Norwood Farm Machinery Centre apprentice experience including taking teachers on a dealership walk around, giving them the chance to talk directly with apprentices and technicians.

Hawera Service Manager, Dan Botha, was one of the Norwood Farm Machinery Centre staff who spoke with teachers.

“I was the first person to complete an apprenticeship under the programme that Mark Sanger set up, nearly 10 years ago, so it was nice to be able to give teachers a first-hand account of how valuable it was to me and my career” said Botha.

“My favourite moment of the day was seeing the teachers develop an understanding of the complexity of our equipment and the high uses of latest technology.”

The pace at which the agricultural industry is being changed by technology is something that is catching the eye of more and more potential apprentices, says Sanger.

“Of course getting up close and personal with big machinery is what captures the attention of a lot of young people, but as tractors and farm equipment get more and more technologically advanced we find that apprentices are increasingly inspired by this part of the industry and they begin to get a more genuine understanding for how varied and exciting their careers can be.”

Norwood Farm Machinery Centre Retail Manager, Garry Watt, says that he is proud of the commitment the Hawera branch has shown to the apprenticeship programme and to Connect17.

“It’s pleasing to see how Mark and his team’s involvement in this scheme has helped build this great community initiative. It’s rewarding as a business to support young people coming into our company, and to be able to provide the service knowledge and support that our customers expect from us. We have a number of staff who have gone through a Norwood apprenticeship and moved on to become senior service technicians through to national management staff” said Watt.

Next on the calendar for the South Taranaki Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs is the 2017 Youth To Work Awards, coming up in November. This is the showcase event of the year for the initiative, celebrating the achievements of young workers and acknowledging the many businesses supporting them. Sanger says that the amazing calibre of young people who are nominated for these awards each year is a great reminder of the value of supporting these types of programmes.

To find out more about the Norwood Farm Machinery Centre apprenticeship programme, visit https://www.norwood.co.nz/careers/apprenticeships/