Attraction and Retention Research Programme

Originator/Sponsor: Food and Fibre CoVE

Portfolio Managers: Fiona Windle

Status: Complete

Delivered: November 2023

Lead Agency/Service Provider: Scarlatti Limited

Primary Objective(s):

This activity is one of Food and Fibre CoVE’s foundation projects and was identified as a key focus area for Food and Fibre CoVE as follows:

“This focus area intends to increase attraction and retention rates and numbers learning food and fibre, from school to vocational education, to higher learning and to and in the workforce.

A   Build on the high demand for trades academy places, the investment in Māori and Pasifika Trades Training and strong interest in food and fibre curriculum in schools.

B   Support schools and providers to build a skills pipeline with clearly defined and accessible pathways to vocational and higher learning.

C   Retain and increases the numbers of Māori and females at all levels.

  Improve transitions from school to the workforce and from another industry to food and fibre.

E     Improve capability to proactively identify and respond to learning needs and other barriers to access, participation and success for learners and employees.

F    Increase collaboration, and shares practice, data, evidence and knowledge and capability development.”

We believe attraction has been reasonably well researched in the past, is generally understood and we are aware of many attempts (some historic, some still in operation) to improve attraction rates.  The question asked of this research project is “Why, with all of the activity which has taken place, have attraction rates not improved?”

For retention, we recognise the nature of work across the Food and Fibre sector as highly variable (indoors or outdoors or a combination, working with animals or plants or both or marine-based, involving machinery and technology elements and basic animal or plant husbandry at one end of the spectrun and heavily science-based at the other.  What we see in many industries however, is almost bi-polar; some stay for a lifetime but many leave in the first 12 months.  For retention, our question is “What are the factors which mostly impact retention rates within each job type and across the sector as a whole?”

During the development of the second report (Situational Analysis – IDI and Employee Exit Survey) it was determined that the planned retention pilot projects were not going to be viable and the Food and Fibre CoVE Board instead directed that we explore a larger project with a broader scope that was more likely to achieve the type(s) of change the sector needs to improve retention.  To fully inform that new project however, requires more information than the two situational analyses provided.  The Board subsequently approved a scope change for this project to:

Undertake more detailed analyses of IDI data,
Carry out more detailed surveys of employers to better refine the reasons why employees leave in their first year, and
Combine the IDI analyses with the survey results to identify the best return on investment for future retention-related interventions.

These findings will inform a new project in 2024 that will focus on retention initiatives.


Situational Analysis: Desktop Research
Situational Analysis – IDI and Employee Exit Survey
Evaluating Performance Measurements of Attraction and Retention Initiatives through Impact Modelling
Characterising reasons for leaving employment in the food and fibre sector
Synthesis Report

The above information was current as at 29 November 2023