Students in the first intake of theIntroduction to Food Processing Industry programme have just finished their first term at Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Timaru campus. This is a dual pathways programme, which enables students to spend four days a week at high school undertaking study for NCEA, and one day a week participating in the level 2 programme at Ara.
In 2017 Ara and Aoraki Development worked together with the Timaru Food Processing and Manufacturing Business Connection Group to develop a programme which could respond to the demand for more youth to enter the food processing industry. In Timaru, the food processing and manufacturing sector is the largest employer in the district, employing nearly 5000 of the 25,000 strong workforce.
Sabra Moore, Ara Manager of Regional Stakeholder Engagement for South Canterbury, said of the programme that started in February 2018, “it’s about opening students’ eyes to the amazing variety of job possibilities within this industry.”
During their first term, the five students from Mountainview High School and Timaru Boys High School have learned skills such as food safety, health and safety, production and processes. Moore said the students have really enjoyed the site visits at local food and beverage processing plants and have gained valuable insights into local businesses and their operations.
Tutors Jill Milburn and Steve Le Corre at Ara Timaru campus said, “The students are showing amazing attitudes, they are hungry to learn. They are demonstrating great professionalism and have embraced teamwork, which are all valuable traits for any future employers.”
At the end of their first term, the students hosted a showcase for a selection of local industry representatives, displaying their knowledge with presentations to an industry panel. They also prepared and served the panel food made from local products.
The students then flipped the table and directed some “tough questions” to industry panel attendees including Aoraki Development, Silver Fern Farms, McCain Foods, DB and Fonterra.
Aoraki Development CEO Nigel Davenport said “Ara is working hard to ensure stakeholders and industry are involved every step of the way throughout the pilot of this introductory food processing programme. The key driver to this has been the collaborative approach from all involved to ensure the best possible outcome for the student – being the foundation skills and knowledge that will make them very attractive to our largest local industry sector.”
In Term 2 the students will be covering processing techniques (for the food-processing sector), product development and preparing for work experience.