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Rabobank programme showcases agri career opportunities to high school students



Twenty-three high school students from across the upper North Island have completed a four-day live-in programme at Waikato University to learn more about career opportunities in the agricultural sector.

Held last week, the Rabobank Agri Leadership Programme was attended by year 12 and 13 students from 16 different high schools across the Northland, Auckland and Waikato regions. Students were selected to take part in the programme based on their academic performance, leadership attributes and career aspirations.

The action-packed programme included visits to a number of local farming operations and leading agricultural businesses – including Fonterra, Dairy NZ, Silver Fern Farms, Zeelong Tea and Vetora (veterinary services co-operative) – as well as presentations from key New Zealand agribusiness leaders such as Julia Jones from KPMG.

Participant Grace Moscrip, a year 13 student from Whangarei Girls High School, said the programme had given her a whole new appreciation of the range of careers available in the agricultural sector.

“I come from a dairy farm in Hukerenui, and I thought I knew lots about the sector, but I’ve learnt so much in the last few days from the visits and from the different people that spoke to us,” she said.

“On our visit to Dairy NZ, there was a panel discussion with a number of young people who had been on Dairy NZ’s scholarship programme and have recently started jobs there. We got the chance to ask heaps of questions to the people on the panel and they really helped to open my eyes to how many options there are once you get out of uni.”

Grace said the programme had been an “awesome experience” and had cemented her desire to study agribusiness once she leaves high school.

“I’ve always wanted to go to university and I’m very interested in doing something around ag science. I don’t have any specific agribusiness role in mind at this stage, but there were several roles mentioned during the week that sounded really cool.”

The programme also included a strong focus on self-leadership and resilience and Grace said several presenters delivered messages that resonated with her.

“I took quite a lot out of the presentations from the speakers on leadership and overcoming adversity. I’m the head girl at school this year and also play a lot of sport and there was lots of really valuable information in these presentations that will definitely help at school and with my sports activities,” she said.

Another participant, Will Newton, a year 13 student from Mt Albert Grammar, said he’d really enjoyed the week and in particular the visits to Silver Fern Farms and to sheepmilking operation Spring Sheep NZ.

“Definitely the meat works were a highlight for me and it was incredible to see what goes on there. I also thought the visit to the Spring Sheep was awesome as sheep milking is something that was very new to me,” he said.

Will said listening to the speakers across the week had highlighted how many roles were available in the agricultural sector and how careers were evolving.

“I think one of the key points for me was that new types of jobs are being created in the agricultural sector all the time and I don’t need to get too fixated on any one particular role as there may be all sorts of new jobs available by the time I’ve finished my studies and am looking to enter the workforce,” he said.

Now in its fourth year, the Agri-Leadership Programme was developed in 2015 by Rabobank’s Waikato Client Council – a group of Waikato-based Rabobank clients who meet regularly to discuss agricultural industry issues and implement ideas to contribute to the sustainability of rural communities.

Waikato Client Council chairperson Pamela Storey said the council developed the initiative as it felt more needed to be done to ensure school leavers were aware of the range of careers available in the sector.

“Prior to launching the programme, the council spoke to a number of young people working in the sector to find out how they’d ended up in their roles. Several of these young people said they’d stumbled across a career in the sector, rather than being directed towards it, and that they would have looked at the agricultural earlier if they’d known about the opportunities,” she said.

“We wanted to do something to help address this issue and, after considering a few different alternatives, we landed on a four-day educational programme. This format has worked really well over the last four years and we’ve had feedback from alumni who have said they have chosen to study and pursue careers in agri as a direct result of the programme.”

The Rabobank Waikato Agri-Leadership Programme is one of a number of Rabobank initiatives to help encourage young people into the agricultural sector.

Other client council initiatives include the Rabobank Farm Experience Programme – which has run for the last three years in Canterbury and provides urban teens with an opportunity to spend a week on farm – and the big day out with agri – which has run for the last two years in the Bay of Plenty to provide high school career advisors with more information on agri careers.


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has nearly 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of about 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 branches throughout New Zealand.

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Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
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Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525