Our Projects

Below is a summary of current projects along with proposals which are progressing toward the business case stage. Where more detail about each project is available this can be accessed by clicking the project heading. If you are interested in knowing more about a project or proposal, or are keen to be involved, you can provide your contact details and an appropriate comment in the block at the bottom of this page.

Current Projects

Tupu Case Study

The Te Hiku Iwi Development Trust (Kaitaia, Northland) recently commissioned an innovative ‘learn as you earn’ programme (the Tupu programme) to trial a new way of transitioning out of work rangitahi into meaningful work.  It was obvious that, even after just a few months, some impressive results were being achieved with very positive outcomes for both worker-leaners and employers in an environment where neither group had been particularly well served in the past.  It was agreed that empirical data should be captured on what was different about the Tupu programme and why those changes were working for Tupu where other programmes across New Zealand had not been as successful. Funded by the FFCoVE, the Trust has engaged a research company which is working toward a final report toward the middle of 2022.

Click here for more information on Tupu employment and training in the Far North.

Te Ao Māori Integration into the Level 3 Māori Cadetship Programme

Post-COVID there has been an increase in cadet and workforce programmes. The dominant existing ones are either focused on first-time learners at Level 1-2 or on employment outcomes. A level 3 Māori cadetship programme in the Bay of Plenty has been updated by integrating Te Ao Māori practices. Te Awanui Huka Pak Limited are leading this project to assess the outcomes achieved through that integration so that other programmes can leverage those practices which make a significant difference to learner outcomes. This project is scheduled to complete in May 2022. 

Year 7 & 8 STEM Programme

Attracting students into Food and Fibre related training and education is an ongoing challenge. The objective of the Year 7 and 8 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Project is to expose senior Primary School pupils to the Primary Industry Sector across multiple disciplines:

  • Plant husbandry
  • Hydroponics
  • Technology (electronic measuring tools and robotics in particular)

Systems Approach to Micro-credentials

When the FFCoVE was originally established a number of Project suggestions were received that identified micro credentials as a solution to an industry wide problem of a lack of recognition for small bite sized pieces of learning. Those projects were combined and Dairy Training NZ appointed to take the lead on the project.

  • Define what good looks like for micro-credential development and delivery across the food and fibre sector
  • Undertake mapping work to address the role of badging, stacking, and other characteristics of micro-credentials as raised by the stakeholder group
  • Develop a system for the shareability and portability of micro-credentials 
  • Formalise a community of interest

Work Integrated Learning

Currently two formal models of learning exist, the in-work model and the provider model. The Food and Fibre sector seeks to establish Work Integrated Learning model(s) which provide greater flexibility for learners and enables simplified access to vocational education. eCampus NZ are leading this initiative, ably supported by EIT, WITT, NMIT, NZ Young Farmers, Dairy Training Ltd and NZ Apples and Pears. The working group has made significant progress in defining a high level Work Integrated Learning Ecosystem and are in the process of identifying two or three pilot projects to test that ecosystem.

  • Analyse the current state of horticulture qualifications within the sector and describe how they connect to each other, who the providers are and research what is best practice delivery.
  • Examine the opportunities for both vertical and horizontal training options
  • Identify what an end-to-end career plan looks like for learners throughout the continuum from pre-employment to post graduate with industry voice guiding development and ensuring consistency across all qualification’s content. 
  • Research the requirement for qualifications that are fit for purpose for both industry and learners.
  • Scope one or more sector wide pilot schemes which would demonstrate the validity of the research findings. 

Two pilot project have since been approved by the FFCove Board to prove (or not) the findings of the project to date:

  • Vehicle Competency Testing. This pilot project is testing an online assessment process based on vehicle use in agriculture settings through the use of a digital tool where the employer will ask an employee a prescribed set of questions about the vehicle, and vehicle use, in a staged approach and results will be consistently recorded.
  • Freshwater Farm Plans. This pilot is comparing face-to-face training delivery and online training delivery, both using the same material and assessment methods (that is, only the method of delivery is different).   Its aim is to assess the suitability of online delivery for work integrated learning. 

Residential and Group Training Research Project

Based on initial exploration, there appears to be potential for an updated or modernised version of residential training within the FF Sector.  Similarly, Group Training would seem to offer a range of advantages that make it an attractive option for the food and fibre sector. This project will explore the potential for a Group Training Scheme to be established, on its own, or as an element of a wider training model. It’s objectives are:

  • To capture and consider national and international best evidence on both residential and group training, and test these for applicability in the Food and Fibre sector.  
  • To assemble the necessary information and inputs to design a new training model or service innovation within the Food and Fibre sector. 
  • To test the proposed model against relevant policy settings and good practices to ensure system deliverability and industry credibility.  
  • To consider how the new training model can expand or augment current formal VET delivery, to attract more learners and employers through the availability of a new and fit-for-purpose training option for the sector. 

Research Project:  Workforce Development Options for the Wool Harvesting Industry

This project will develop a situational analysis of shearing training in New Zealand, history and current context, and develop an evidence base (including WOMOlife – WOMO Life stands for Work wise, Move wise and at its core is the philosophy work wise, move wise for a longer, more sustainable career) to suggest skills and training options, outline good practices, and considerations for future training in this industry, referencing to FF CoVE’s recently developed Excellence Framework.  

The research design and specific questions will be developed in consultation with a steering group. 


The Farm4Life Hub, founded by Tangaroa Walker, is an online video learning platform that delivers education 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They have a video library of almost 1000 videos that communicate the “how” and “why” of dairy farming.  The Farm4Life hub contains individual, team and farm learning overviews and education from leading experts in the dairy industry.  

This project is a largely desk-based project analysing the potential for the online video resources could be used and/or linked to structured training models, across different modes of delivery e.g. schools, on-farm provision. This project will explore opportunities and options to connect and develop the resources within a new or existing framework to connect it to formally recognised, accredited, and subsidised vocational education delivery. It will capture insights and observations from learners, whanau and wider programme delivery to inform and build the evidence base of training practices. It has an element of scenario testing –to the extent it will consider what additional frameworks the programme might require to be formally recognised, or in other words the system changes necessary such that resources like this would be supported through the system. This will include mapping work to consider quality and alignment with NZQF and/or NCEA assessment and credentials.  We propose that the project would similarly reference the Farm4Life programme with the FF CoVE’s excellence framework. 

Initiatives Under Development

The following initiatives are being assessed with regard to alignment with the FFCoVE strategy, breadth of potential benefits across the sector, support from industry and providers etc. The FFCoVE is particularly interested to hear from organisations which might be interested in taking part in the development and delivery of these.

FF Leadership Development Framework

To design and adopt a food and fibre leadership framework with supporting system(s), which would provide a set of success criteria that other projects would use to meet the current and future needs of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector.  

The supporting system(s) will be developed over several years by defining, developing, and delivering a model that allows the framework to be trialed, refined, inculcated, and scaled.  The alignment with other projects is what introduces the need for a leadership framework to provide an assurance that all of those other projects will contribute toward a whole-of-sector need.  

Left unchecked, the sector will end up with a plethora of disconnected leadership programmes that are not credentialed vocationally or academically, lack logical progression, and suffer from a variety of pedagogical value. Therefore, this project is designed to have impact across the food and fibre sector. 


Training and Career Framework

This Project is addressing the issue of the wide variety of programmes and associated learning and assessment resources that are currently on offer across the Food and Fibre Sector that are inconsistent in respect to learning outcomes, content, and quality. The current suite of qualifications does not provide a clear training or career pathway for learners entering, nor for those already working within, the sector. They do not link well with each other, nor does the content flow from qualification to qualification. As a result, employees struggle to get appropriate recognition of learning when they move between employers and/or across regions. The current complex array of programmes and courses on offer confuses both learners and industry. This project seeks to identify the Food and Fibre qualifications and programmes that are fit for purpose for industry and learners therefore enabling clear career pathways. Industry sees pathways aligned to nationally delivered programmes, with consistent content and industry-defined skills, as a positive solution for all involved. 

Attraction and Retention Research Programme

A key aspect of improving vocational excellence across the Food and Fibre sector is to understand what attracts students to Food and Fibre sector-related training and workers to employment in the Food and Fibre sector. Once they are engaged in the sector as students or workers, we are also keen to understand how best to retain their interest so that they continue to advance their learning and become long-term employees or business owners.

Attracting students into Food and Fibre related studies and school leavers or career changers into employment in the sector has been a long-standing pursuit with, anecdotally, mixed results. The general feeling across the sector seems to be that, while there have been successes in some quarters, overall results have been disappointing despite much research and wide-ranging initiatives. Also anecdotally, even where attraction has worked, retaining those workers in the sector has been a challenge.

While there have been many studies of attraction for both students and workers, much less has been done about retention. It would be good to know why those previous attraction studies have not resulted in the changes expected (were the recommendations implemented but the outcomes fell short or were the recommendations not implemented at all?)  We are particularly interested in the relative merits of ‘push’ attraction (e.g. where young people are encouraged to consider the Food and Fibre sector through brochures, secondary school agriculture and horticulture courses, day visits to farms and orchard visits etc) versus ‘pull’ attraction (e.g. social media engagement with sector influencers, positive messaging on environmental outcomes through better practices, clearer link between farm/ orchard/ fishery/ garden/ etc. and food products in supermarkets etc.)

Regarding retention, we not only want to understand more about what influences this but are interested in piloting potential solutions to prove there are things the sector can do to positively influence retention rates.

There will be current initiatives addressing attraction and/or retention (we know of some already under way) and therefore a potential for duplication or conflicting outcomes which we would want to avoid.  We would expect to work with the successful respondent to identify and engage with these initiatives to mutual advantage.

This programme of work is expected to cost in the vicinity of $250K (including two or three pilot projects to test the more critical findings) and take about 12 months to complete.

Project Proposals in Discussion

Understanding How Informal and Non-Formal Learning are used in the Food and Fibre Sector and how this might be recognised in the formal setting  

The Food and Fibre Sector has a wide and diverse range of training and upskilling needs. This is in order to ensure that it meets high, quality standards set by the market both internationally and domestically, as well as ensuring a highly productive workforce and providing an attractive career proposition to potential staff. This being the case, a wide range of training and upskilling mechanisms, of an informal, non-formal and formal nature, have been brought to bare on meeting this demand.

We are currently discussing  a potentential project with third parties that seeks to explore how the informal and non-formal learning that a participant has done can be more easliy and viably recognised by the formal setting without on one hand, diminishing the qualty and rigour of that setting but at the same time not over complicating the the activity in the informal and non-formal environment.

Research Future and shape of NZ Apprenticeships as they apply to the Food and Fibre Sector

Initiate review of NZ Apprenticeships model and its applicability to the food and fibre sector. Request initiated by Muka tangata, there is lots of things to potentially look at – suitability of level (4 or 3+4), credit values, funding, outcome of Apprenticeship Boost, what does an NZA look like in Te Pūkenga etc. This work couples with other projects in the FFCoVE portfolio, such as Residential and Group training Research project (underway) and the Career and Training Framework (in development).

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