Head of Agriculture, Natasha Cloughley, says the Agribusiness course is attracting students with a wide range of skills. “The course will help them be more prepared to either farm as a business, move on to tertiary study in a related field, or become industry entrepreneurs. Innovation is a key driver of the course, with students encouraged to think through problems and come up with their own ideas and solutions.”
The course covers everything from organisational structure, to working for a business, food technologies, marketing, exporting, finance, legal, cash flow, and future proofing.
Natasha says value chain innovations is another exciting topic, which gives students the opportunity to explain how innovations within the value chain are contributing to the success of an industry, then focus in on a specific innovation to analyse its impact on profitability. “It is this sort of critical thinking which can lead students to their own exciting innovations and ideas.”
Throughout the year, students carry out a series of case studies on businesses in a wide range of primary sectors, such as wool, honey, seeds, salmon, beef, dairy, sheep, kiwifruit, and craft beer.
Commerce teacher, Steve Aldhamland, who is also delivering the course, says the College approached parents and local businesses to ask if they would be prepared to take part in the case studies. “We had a great response and are working with some leading companies, including Swanndri, Midland Holdings (owned by Chris Green, the major sponsor of The Green Library and Innovation Centre, which will be officially opened on Friday 8 June at St Andrew’s), Harrington’s Brewery, ANZCO Foods, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and Akaroa Salmon. Some businesses have offered additional resources to the programme, as well as their own time and expertise.”
Business ethics, sustainable farming practices, and external pressures facing agriculture businesses are also investigated throughout the course.
St Andrew’s has been closely aligned with the rural sector throughout its history and has many current students with farming backgrounds. However not all of the 15 Year 12 students and 22 Year 13 students taking part in the course are from farms, says Steve. “Agribusiness complements Commerce subjects such as Accounting and Economics really well, along with the existing Agriscience course, which is more research and investigation based. Some students are combining these courses in their study programme, while others are studying Agribusiness as a standalone course.”
Natasha says the introduction of the new programme is timely, as jobs in the agribusiness sector have become more specialised, and there are significant skill shortages across the value chain, with demand for people working at the farm gate, and for those with professional skills in engineering, science and management. “New Zealand is a successful primary producer because of its niche in premium products. We hope that this course will send some awesome young people into the industry in the future, to farm, to support the sector, and to come up with its next great innovations.”