Our sector has a strong history of developing young people who love working with plants and building their skills and knowledge. We are working with our members, industry partners, tertiary providers and the Government to reignite the training programmes and qualifications that have been so important to our sector.  

 Lincoln Memorandum of Understanding

In July 2022, NZPPI was delighted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Lincoln University to establish a national Centre of Excellence for plant production. This Centre, based at Lincoln, will provide extension, research and capacity-building programmes for our industry, from breeding and germplasm through to the production and marketing of plants and plant products. The overall aim is to drive productivity and resilience in our industry through:

  • accelerating the adoption of innovations
  • technical and extension services for NZPPI members and our partners.
  • establishing new models for horticulture education, in the regions and in the workplace.  

Alongside this partnership with Lincoln, sits an innovation network model for plant production. The framework will give our members access to expertise from Lincoln and through its international networks. This is a step change for our industry.  It will put plant producers in the driving seat, making science and education relevant and accessible, as well as cheaper and faster.  Through our relationship with Lincoln, NZPPI can bring together the resources and know-how needed to establish the Centre of Excellence plus regional and local centres where extension and education activities can be delivered.  


The Young Plant Producer competition (formerly called Young Achiever) recognises the best young people in our sector and enables them to take the next step in their personal and career development.

The two-day event pushes entrants to learn valuable new skills, gives them exceptional networking opportunities with industry leaders, and a boost to their careers. Each year our Young Plant Producer joins the winners of other horticulture industry competitions in the Young Horticulturalist of the Year.

Check out the Young Plant Producer website for more information and how and when to enter.



In July 2022, we announced the establishment of the Carol Fraser Industry Training Award (Fraser Award) in memory of Carol Fraser who founded Growing Spectrum with her husband Peter. Carol, who played an extremely active role in industry training and the professional development of plant producers. This award, supported by the Fraser family, will continue Carol’s educational legacy through its support of those outstanding individuals who have a passion for plants, for training and education, and for our industry. The inaugural award was presented at the Conference 2022 awards dinner by Carol’s son Michael to Rural Design nursery manager, Dani McBride, our 2021 Young Achiever.

Careers & Education

With about 4000 people employed in our sector and many unfilled jobs, there are plenty of opportunities for people to join our industry and pursue an exciting and rewarding career. 

We work with other primary organisations to identify the best structure for a Primary Workforce Development Council to represent our sector.

This work includes:

  • Developing our industry qualifications to ensure that they are relevant
  • Promoting free apprenticeships
  • Establishing a way for people to find jobs in our sector

Workplace Training

The $1.6 Billion Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package announced by the Government will provide free training in our sector for a two year period, starting 1 June 2020.

This is a prime opportunity for anyone working in your business to take the step upskilling. There are many new training opportunities for workers that are starting out, or already in management positions.  

To find out more, visit the  Plant Careers Website

Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme

Equipping today’s leaders for tomorrow’s challenges.

The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme has been specifically designed for the food and fibre sector.

The programme develops food and fibre sector leaders with the skills, confidence, awareness, and networks to think and act strategically.

It is for farmers, foresters, fishers, growers, and agri-professionals who have a desire to contribute to their rural community, food and fibre production, processing, or profession.

To apply, or for more information, visit the website now

For any queries contact Lisa Rogers +64 21 139 6881 or email


TEC research into school leaver decision-making provides industry opportunity

29 Aug 2022


The Tertiary Education Commission, Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua (TEC), has put out a foundation piece of research about transitioning secondary students that presents a deeper understanding of how school leavers decide their next steps. 

 The research process

60,000 students leave school each year. TEC surveyed 500 school leavers, and had in-depth interviews with 56 across the country, to understand the ‘why’ behind the pathways they take next.

 The findings

The research shows that a growing proportion of school leavers are Māori, Pacific or ethnic minorities; 15% of school leavers have a disability and 9% are neurodivergent; 82% of leavers have work or caring responsibilities outside of school. These figures indicate the growing diversity coming through into our workforce. The results also show that 40% of school leavers achieve University Entrance (UE), but 1 in 5 only achieve NCEA Level 1 or less. The majority go on to tertiary study, with 36% of those entering foundation levels (1-3) and 29% of school leavers go straight into the workforce. 

TEC found that there are four types of knowledge needed for an informed decision:

  • Orienting (what a learner values, their guiding decision)
  • Focused (what pathways might suit them)
  • Deep (what those options are ‘really like’)
  • Logistical (practical steps to make it happen)

Factors that prompt students to pivot from a dream to other careers include perceived barriers to entry, job stability and demand. Five key barriers limit their opportunities, especially for learners in under-served groups (Māori, Pacific, women, neurodivergent and disabled learners): 

  • The cost of study
  • Lack of connections with their desired pathway
  • Lack of capacity to engage with career decision-making
  • The impacts of COVID-19
  • Systemic biases including streaming.

When students leave school, it is usually the first complex decision they have had to make in their lives. Going out into the world, with nothing to fall back on, increases the uncertainty of making the right decision. Learners are craving an environment where there is room to experiment with a variety of options. 

 Opportunities for plant producer employers

Our industry has to undertake a concerted effort to attract the 29% straight into our workforce, as well as ensuring we have appropriate tertiary level study for the other majority. We can do this by:

  1. Ensuring that we have working conditions, work culture, and jobs that cater for learners in these under-served groups, as many say that they are planning to pursue trades and community occupations. 
  2. Showcasing what our industry has to offer, talking to students about the opportunities, and modelling real life workers who have first-hand experience of a plant production career pathway. We need to demonstrate the passion, beauty, community, and pride plant producers have in what they do.
  3. Supporting our learners at all levels, as without these learners, our future workforce will only continue to be harder to find. 

Creating consistent messaging for the industry is a crucial next step in attraction across Aotearoa, New Zealand. Here at NZPPI we are promoting Plant Careers across several different platforms and initiatives such as Secondary School Education Programs, school and careers expos, field days, TEC programs, Muka Tangata, Go Gardening, Lincoln University, Opportunity Grows Here, Social Media, and more.

Our industry has the support of many initiatives, so it is now up to us to get behind these and showcase our industry in a light that we see fit.





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