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Where do food and fibre industries source their talent?
Key findings

The food and fibre industries are facing a growing shortage of workers. When searching for new talent, industry groups and government agencies should consider widening their talent attraction programmes beyond secondary schools. This study has shown that career changers make up 45% of new talent while secondary school students only account for 7%, suggesting that an alternative market exists from which to attract new entrants.

Introduction

Talent attraction is a growing priority for the food and fibre sectors. Not only do employers need to attract new talent to keep up with the expanding sector, but they also need to replace 10-15% of their workforce each year. Many sectors are struggling to stay on top of their demand for workers and are becoming increasingly dependent on migrant workers.

This report provides insights into where New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors have historically sourced their talent from and highlights key targets for employers to attract new talent.

Number of new entrants

The chart below presents the absolute number of new entrants each year into the different food and fibre sectors. A new entrant is defined here to be a worker in their first year of full-time employment.

The volume of new entrants is shown to be strongly correlated with the economic conditions in that sector. For instance, the intake of new entrants in the construction industry peaked in 2007 but dropped shortly afterwards due to a construction lull caused by the global financial crisis. Similarly, the number of new entrants into the dairy sector has corresponded with global dairy conditions. The number of new entrants into the sector increased with global dairy prices in 2008. As the international prices for dairy fell in 2009, so did the number of new entrants. The same trend can be observed in 2014/15 where the global prices also dropped.

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Methodology

A new entrant is classified as an individual who first starts working (earning income in IRD records) within a given sector (defined through employer ANZSIC 2006 codes). We take new entrants in the sectors we follow between the years of 2007 and 2017.

Within IRD data there is no available information on the number of hours worked, only income at a monthly level. Because of this, we only consider an employee to be employed in a given month if they earn more than the equivalent of 0.5 FTE (80 hours) on the minimum wage. Thus for 2007 (minimum wage of $11.25) only months with income over $900 count as employed.

Talent pools

The pie chart below outlines the proportion of talent pools that the food and fibres source new entrants. Talent pools are defined by what new entrants were doing in the year leading up to starting work.

There are a large range of areas new talent could be source from. Food and fibre sectors invest considerable effort into talent attraction programmes at secondary schools. However, this study suggests that this may not be the most productive use of their resources. School leavers only account for 7% of the new entrants, while career changers contribute 45% of all new entrants. Existing workforces might be a more fruitful target than secondary schools.

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Methodology

New entrants are categorised into the following groups based on any education enrolments in the year leading up to starting work, or work experience in the past five years. They are categorised in a ranked hierarchy of:

  1. Secondary school leaver (enrolled within one year of starting work)
  2. Tertiary graduate (enrolled within one year of starting work)
  3. Career changer (at least one year of work experience within any other sector)
  4. Immigrant (first arrived in New Zealand within one year)
  5. Beneficiary (history of beneficiary income)
  6. Returning Kiwi (return date to New Zealand within one year)
  7. Others and unknowns

Such that a new entrant recently enrolled in tertiary education with more than one year of work experience is classified as a tertiary graduate as opposed to a career changer.

Career changers prior industry

It is useful to understand the industries that career changers are coming from to attract new talent. The chart below demonstrates what industry the career changers were in before changing into food and fibre sectors. 30% of these new entrants were working in the wider related industry e.g. working in other food and fibre sectors before starting work in dairy farming. Click ‘breakdown other’ to get more detail on what other sectors career changers were working in.

Methodology

Career changers are categorised into industries based on the ANZSIC06 code of their previous employer.

New entrants are categorised into the following groups based on any education enrolments in the year leading up to starting work, or work experience in the past five years. They are categorised in a ranked hierarchy of:

  1. Secondary school leaver (enrolled within one year of starting work)
  2. Tertiary graduate (enrolled within one year of starting work)
  3. Career changer (at least one year of work experience within any other sector)
  4. Immigrant (first arrived in New Zealand within one year)
  5. Beneficiary (history of beneficiary income)
  6. Returning Kiwi (return date to New Zealand within one year)
  7. Others and unknowns

Such that a new entrant recently enrolled in tertiary education with more than one year of work experience is classified as a tertiary graduate as opposed to a career changer.

The talent pools have not changed significantly over time. The most noticeable trend over time is the increase in proportions of migrant workers in the food and fibre sector, particularly in the dairy farming sector.

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Methodology

A new entrant is classified as an individual who first starts working (earning income in IRD records) within a given sector (defined through employer ANZSIC 2006 codes). We take new entrants in the sectors we follow between the years of 2007 and 2017, and categorise them into source groups using the following hierarchy:

  1. Secondary leaver (enrolled within one year of starting work)
  2. Tertiary graduate (enrolled within one year of starting work)
  3. Career changer (at least one year of work experience within any other sector)
  4. Immigrant (first arrived in New Zealand within one year)
  5. Beneficiary (history of beneficiary income)
  6. Returning kiwi (return date to New Zealand within one year)
  7. Others and unknowns

Such that a new entrant recently enrolled in tertiary education with more than one year of work experience is classified as a tertiary graduate as opposed to a career changer.

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Outcomes of new entrants in food and fibre sectors

Compare how outcomes compare between different talent sources of new entrants

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Demographics of new entrants

Investigate the demographic breakdown of new talent into select New Zealand sectors

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Correlated factors to the retention of new entrants in the food and fibre sector

In this report we test the correlation of various characteristics with retention rates