Telford is toasting it’s Massey Diploma in Agriculture Class of 2020 with all their graduates going directly into full-time employment in the rural sector after graduation.
Telford’s Programme Manager Debbie Rankin is thrilled for all the graduates and said “We are so proud of them all – they’ve done all the hard work themselves and committed to two years training, we just want them to do well, they certainly deserve their success!”
Ms Rankin said she thought the successful 100% employment rate was due to all the students completing two years at Telford.
“They did the hard yards in the first year and they got out and got known, that first year is a key part of their success”.
Telford is a faculty of Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) and runs the Massey Diploma in Agriculture (DipAg) programme, with many students completing a certificate year prior to committing to the diploma in year 2.
The 2020 class of DipAg students were all farming systems students from 2019, having already gained a New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (Farming Systems) (Level 3), which also incorporates the New Zealand Certificate in Primary Industry Operational Skills (Level 3).
Ms Rankin stressed the importance of the role host farmers play in shaping Telford graduates. “The students gain work experience on up to twelve different farms including our own commercial
units, Telford Farms, and in the process, they’re exposed to many different styles of farming. At the same time, they’re also networking and making connections within the farming community and this is crucial to their success”.
She said the diploma year is more academic and there’s not the same opportunity to do the networking, so certificate students really benefit in their first year at Telford, establishing connections and building relationships, and in some cases with their future employers.
DipAg graduate Anna Jordan is starting her new role as Shepherd at Pamu Lynmore – a Landcorp farm in the Te Anau basin, in early December. She just loved her time at Telford and how much knowledge she gained.
“I loved being able to do the dog training, and every day we learnt something new - I loved that it was different every day”.
She said Telford’s Work Ex Coordinator pointed her in the right direction in finding her job.
“At Telford you know everyone, it’s like a community of friends and family – everyone supports everyone” she said.
Allan Roxburgh is Telford’s Work Experience Coordinator, as well as a tutor, and he is passionate about his role in placing each individual student into the right farm, to increase their knowledge and experience, but also to assist them in finding employment after they graduate.
He says the DipAg students are motivated and usually start actively looking for work from around August onwards, and his guidance is there to help match graduates to farms looking for staff.
He liaises closely with host farmers and has his finger on the pulse of what farmers need when wanting to employ a graduate.
He said whilst it’s not unusual to have most, or all graduates with jobs to go to, he’s noticed increasingly, Telford students are valued and desirable in the workplace because they have such a strong practical component in their programmes, where practical skills are taught from day one.
“Farmers from Canterbury will ring us looking for graduates and they prefer to take our students because of the practical element taught here”.
A successful placement means both farmer and student get something out of it said Mr Roxburgh. “It’s got to be rewarding for the farmer too”.
“Our graduate profile is pretty strong – I’m confident they can go into employment and achieve more than just hold down a job”.
“It’s important they (the graduate) stick at their first job for at least 18 months and it’s pretty important we get it right because we don’t want them bailing after three months. We don’t set them up to fail” he said.
And from day one Mr Roxburgh consistently tells students the rule to success – “Attitude is absolutely everything here”.
He said they must want to be there, and be prepared to get out and try things. “We also get a lot of students who’re from town, I say to them, just because you’re not off a farm, a lack of skills is no barrier to success, it’s all about the attitude, if you have the right attitude, you’ll be successful”.
He used the Farming Systems programme as an example of engaging the students immediately in hands-on learning. In a 36-week course it’s broken up into thirds – students have one third work experience, one third practical workshops and one third in the classroom.
The first 6 weeks of their year is very intense, with a basic introduction and familiarisation to practical skills we feel they will need early in their work experience placements, said Mr Roxburgh. It covers shearing and crutching, stock handling, first aid, Health & Safety, some fencing skills, agri-vehicles etc.
“It gives them a few skills and hopefully some confidence to go forward. More intensive training follows throughout the year” he said.
Telford’s tight-knit community provides a high level of support in all areas of student life. Different types of learners and students who may have not been academic at school, can thrive in the Telford environment with programmes providing a strong practical focus. They often find themselves excelling in the wide range of essential skills taught for farming.
“We also have two staff who specifically work with students who have learning difficulties, and they do an excellent job” said Mr Roxburgh.
He said he gets the most satisfaction from knowing the students have set some goals for their future and they’ve got the piece of paper that will help them get there.
“It’s my job to help build their confidence, help them set goals and help them to achieve them. Watching them plot a pathway to get to where they want, is satisfying”.
The Massey Diploma in Agriculture will be offered at Telford in 2021 under the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF), which means there are no course costs – students only pay direct material costs, and accommodation if residing on-campus.
For further information, contact Telford on 0800 835 367 or go visit: www.sit.ac.nz/Telford