To keep pace with the fast changing horticulture sector, EIT – aligned with industry and industry training organisations – is constantly widening its range of programmes. A recent addition was The New Zealand Diploma in Horticulture (Level 5), Post Harvest Strand.
“The diploma is spread over two years to meet the needs of people working in the horticulture industry,” explains horticulture tutor Chris Thorman, the programme coordinator for the programme. “This means students can work and study during the year and it is tailored to fit around the busy packing season.”
Joe Dale and Rachael Marston are two current students. These pack house managers have several years of experience in the industry and are now studying to keep up-to-date with current developments.
Joe, production manager at Freshco, says, he worked his way up from the ground. He left high school and started to work in orchards and then packhouses and in doing so, gained a lot of background knowledge about the industry. “The course enhances my management skills and gives me a deeper understanding of things that I’m doing,” says Joe who is responsible for a team of 100 employees.
Rachael too has climbed the ladder in the industry. The 26-year-old oversees the crop logistics at Johnny Appleseed by organising and controlling all the incoming fruit from the orchards and outgoing consignments to cool stores and customers. “For instance, I have to check all of the bin dockets on every incoming load, whether the information displayed is correct and the fruit has met all the legal requirements. It’s all about traceability and food safety,” she points out.
Rachael was offered the chance to gain the qualification by her boss. “I thought that there would be nothing wrong with expanding my horizons and streamlining my knowledge. I’m able to understand the process now, for example why we store fruit in certain way and what difference it makes to fruit.”
The industry realises that well-trained people are the key to success and fully supports the programme which enhances the career prospects within the industry. The next Horticulture diploma (Post Harvest, Level 5) starts at the end of July at the EIT Hastings Centre.