The age-old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? If you’re not sure, a good place to visit is the Fieldays Careers and Education Hub.
Hosted by GrowingNZ and supported by Inspiring the Future, the Fieldays Careers and Education Hub is a fun and interactive zone for school students to learn and be inspired by the wealth of opportunities available in the food and fibre sectors. It’s also open to anyone who is curious about the career and training options available, so everyone is bound to leave learning something new or feeling inspired.
A new introduction to the Hub this year is the mystery panel event run by Inspiring the Future. Students can play ‘guess who’ to figure out the careers of four mystery role models in the food and fibre sector. The event provides an engaging way for students to learn about new career pathways and breaks down barriers of prejudice about what people have to look like to work in a particular role. In Thursday’s afternoon session, Kaipaki School students asked questions like, “do you save people?”, “do you work in the countryside?”, and “do you work from home?”
Then, the mystery panel reveal their job titles, presenting a diverse mix of food and fibre roles which often the students haven’t been exposed to before their visit to the Hub. The role models share their career journeys with the students and sit down with them in groups to chat and answer any questions they may have.
Promoted by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Inspiring the Future is a programme backed by New Zealand research, Drawing the Future, which reveals robust evidence on children’s career aspirations. The TEC received over 7,700 drawings in just a few weeks from primary and intermediate school-level children, of what they wanted to be when they were older. The findings from this research led to the creation of a four-hour programme that is now run at schools and has been condensed into a 45-minute slot to run at the Fieldays Career and Education Hub.
Andrea Howey, Senior Marketing Advisor at the TEC, says the research shows that currently, children’s career aspirations are shaped by people they know.
“Less than 1% of young people aspired to a role as a result of spending time with a volunteer from the world of work. Nobody can be what they can’t see. That’s why we need New Zealanders from every walk of life participating in events like these.”
Together with GrowingNZ, Inspiring the Future aims to widen children’s awareness of the broad range of career and study options on offer and reduce future skills gaps in the food and fibre sector along the way.
Michelle Glogau, CEO of the Primary Industry Capability Alliance (GrowingNZ) says we have a critical workforce shortage and need a diverse range of talented people to join our sector. This is both in the short term and longer term – it’s been calculated that we need 50,000 more workers by 2025.
“New Zealand’s food and fibre sector needs talented people with skills in science, business and engineering to help us grow food, wood and wool, better and smarter.
Michelle says that introducing children to role models in food and fibre sector careers in a fun and interactive environment is the futureproofing we need to do now to support the sector. GrowingNZ and
Inspiring the Future need role models on board to share their story and inspire the next generation. If you can spare a few hours of your time to broaden the career aspirations of New Zealand children, you can sign up at inspiringthefuture.org.nz.
“The conversations we’ve had with children, teachers, and parents at Fieldays has shown that there is a real appetite for this. We need more businesses on board to help us sow the seed and widen children’s career aspirations and strengthen the resilience of our sector.
“You might not think of yourself as a role model, but if you love what you do and you want to give back, we encourage you to sign up. Also, seeing your career from a child’s perspective can be refreshing and it’s nice for the volunteers to reflect on their own jobs.”
Drawing the Future food and fibre sector-related findings:
· Less than 0.1% of children drew themselves in a specific horticulture job
· Less than 0.1% of children aspired to work in the forestry industry
· Only 1.6% of children from urban schools aspired to be farmers, compared to 7.3% from rural schools