Future skills

The primary industries are the backbone of New Zealand's economy and our way of life. They bring in billions of dollars every year and make up 1 in every 7 jobs. Find out how the sector will have to adapt to changing needs to continue to thrive.

Building on our good reputation

New Zealand has a strong reputation for exporting high-quality and sustainable foods and fibres. But we must work hard to adapt if we're to maintain that reputation in a fast-changing world.

Some of the factors redefining how primary industries must work include:

  • higher consumer expectations
  • a greater focus on sustainability
  • new technologies
  • an increasingly complex global supply chain.

New Zealand will have to be innovative at every production step if we're going to hold and grow our competitive advantage in the global market.

Future needs

The primary industries and MPI share a common goal to double export returns by 2025. To help reach that goal we'll need more skilled people in the primary industries.

To see how the primary industry workforce is changing, MPI analysed human capabilities in the primary industries between 2002 and 2015.

In 2018, we published some fact sheets, highlighting statistics about the workforce, including qualifications, gender, diversity, and retention rates.

Report on the skills we need

An MPI report, completed in 2014, identified the types of skills needed for the primary industries.

Future capability needs for primary industries [PDF, 3.9 MB]

People powered – summary of key findings [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Jobs becoming more specialist

The future of work in the primary industries will be more specialist than it has been in the past, driven by:

  • sophisticated technologies
  • a growing market in Asia
  • critical issues around food safety, biosecurity, sustainability and animal welfare.

Some of the necessary skills for workers in the primary industries will be non-traditional, such as language and cultural understanding.

Teachers resources

MPI publishes the Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) report each year. As part of this report, we've put together a set of learning activities that teachers can use for mathematics, science, social studies and technology – with a specific focus on the kiwifruit industry.


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