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Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Future students will get access to an unprecedented level of collaboration across the primary industries sector thanks to the establishment of a Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE). 

The establishment of the Food and Fibre CoVE was announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins and is one of several CoVEs that will be created through the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE). 

The Food and Fibre CoVE is expected to drive innovation and excellence, and strengthen the links between industry, the vocational education sector, leading researchers and communities.  

While the primary sector CoVE will be based at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) in Hawke’s Bay, the initiative is being led by the Food and Fibre CoVE Consortium. The consortium is made up of several education providers, including Toi Ohomai, and industry leaders such as Beef + Lamb NZ, Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers, the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council, NZ Apples and Pears, Seafood NZ and NZ Winegrowers, just to name a few.  

Food and Fibre CoVE Consortium chair Jeremy Baker says the CoVE’s mantra is learner focused, industry led, government enabled.  

“The food and fibre sectors are the backbone of communities all over Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as our economy and export earnings.  

“This is a significant achievement, which speaks to the opportunities for food and fibre in the Reform of Vocational Education and the unprecedented level of collaboration across the sector.  

 “All members of the Food and Fibre CoVE are excited to get started on helping to build an education and training system that is responsive and fit-for-purpose.”  

Toi Ohomai Chief Executive Dr. Leon Fourie says the Institute has been actively involved throughout the development process of the Food and Fibre CoVE and the Government announcement was exciting.  

“Bringing together all relevant providers ensures a cohesive and inclusive approach – ensuring we are providing New Zealand with a world-leading vocational training for students.”  

Faculty Dean of Primary Industries, Trades and Infrastructure, Brian Dillon says much of the discussion during the development was based on practices already being used in the delivery of Toi Ohomai primary industries programmes, strengthening collaboration within the sector to produce well-trained, work-ready graduates and providing better upskilling and reskilling opportunities.  

“We have evolved our delivery in these areas in recent years and the CoVE announcement not only validates that shift, but creates the opportunity for us to continue working with industry to ensure relevance of content and delivery modes,” Brian says.   

Toi Ohomai has close working relationships with many industry associations and employers in the primary sector, and this should enhance the impact of activities and projects to be run through the CoVE, he says.   

“We received early endorsement from the CoVE development team to play a key role in the forestry part of the CoVE which, given our geographical position in the central North Island, is logical and acknowledges the role we play in training in many aspects of the forestry supply chain,” Brian says.  

“We are looking forward to being part of the solutions to industry specific issues and applying them in the context of our rohe. This includes access to training, delivery modes, and improving outcomes for our Māori tauira, which make up a large percentage of our student population.”