Learner-Focused, Industry-Led, Government-Enabled

Time to take a ‘whole of sector’ view

When poet John Donne wrote, “no man is an island” in a poem of the same name, it is clear what he meant by this and that it applies to much in life.  

Aotearoa New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is comprised of 14 constituent industries many more if you count the subcategories – and each with its own special character. That said, there are some easily identifiable similarities that run across all the industries with very similar problems to solve. Food and fibre may not enjoy the symbiosis that the wider construction industry possesses, but it has many interconnecting or interrelated parts.  

The biggest opportunity for connected up or holistic business practices has to be in the shared use of all available talent. Talent can work across various industry contexts and deal with similar tasks within them. For example, rural contractors working in vineyards and apple orchards might also be engaged in spraying on beef and lamb farms. Undoubtedly this means that we are transferring skills and knowledge across various parts of the wider food and fibre sector. Bearing this in mind, skills learnt in one context or a solution to a problem found in another can be taken and used to the advantage of the wider sector.  

@FFCoVE is currently working on initiatives to understand how we can better capture this naturally occurring activity and ensure that it is recognised. Qualifications at any level, along with career progression should be able to be horizontal or diagonally applied and navigated. In an age where business needs to be nimble, we should be ensuring that training and development of the talent within that business is supported in the same way.  

While we recognise that some roles are specialist and not all skills are easily transferable, the principles often are. Businesses need to recognise that talent can and should be shared. The advantages of doing this will lead to the transfer of skills and experience that can benefit all players. It can make a diverse and interesting career out of what might otherwise be seasonal and short. It will almost certainly help alleviate the recurring annual shortages of talent as people are shared and problems solved. A change of thinking from operating in vertical silos to one of problem solving and taking a far more lateral approach is urgently required. As the saying goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.    

Paul Hollings is General Manager @FFCoVE 

Posted as LinkedIn article 9 February 2023