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Apple industry already growing jobs for new horticultural degree graduates

Innovation Orchard will play a key role in delivery of new Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture from left Massey University’s Head of the School of Agriculture and Environment Professor Peter Kemp, New Zealand Apples & Pears capability manager Erin Simpson, and chief executive Allan Pollard and student Georgia O'Brien. Image courtesy of NZAPI
Innovation Orchard will play a key role in delivery of new Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture from left Massey University’s Head of the School of Agriculture and Environment Professor Peter Kemp, New Zealand Apples & Pears capability manager Erin Simpson, and chief executive Allan Pollard and student Georgia O'Brien. Image courtesy of NZAPI

New Zealand’s booming apple and pear industry is already promising great career opportunities for the first graduates of a new stand-alone Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture.

Recruitment is underway for the new three-year degree that starts in February 2019 with a fully industry-sponsored 4ha apple innovation orchard at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus.

New Zealand Apples & Pears capability manager Erin Simpson, who has been a driving force behind the new degree, said never before has there been a more exciting time for young people to enter the industry which is offering them a bright and rewarding future.

“As a global leader in food production and with the natural resources available to us here in New Zealand, it is vital that the plant-based food industries of tomorrow have fresh young minds who can guide us into the future,” he said.

New Zealand’s $800 million apple industry has been experiencing year on year record seasons and export returns. Once dubbed a sunset sector, the phenomenal success of the industry which is ranked the best in the world for international competitiveness, has seen growers and exporters calling out for an industry specific education pathway.

NZAPI chief executive Alan Pollard said gaining approval for the degree was a huge achievement and recognised strong support to meet the industry’s skills and education needs.

“The degree has been a long-time coming, made possible by a small team working together to make it a reality, creating significant benefits for both students and the wider horticultural industry.”

Simpson said a degree option was seen as a missing but critical element needed in developing a comprehensive education pathway of learning from schools, industry training and university, enabling entry points for all ages into roles and career options across the entire horticultural value chain.

“We’ve been working with schools to embed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) contextualised resources with a plant-based theme across primary, intermediate and secondary school curriculum. Now we’re giving students a real access point for university study creating even more options and direction towards innovative, global careers in the food sector.”

“Students will be learning the science of plants and also gaining greater understanding of the innovative technologies and systems that will take our industry forward including the new world complexities of modern food production within a global context.

“Working out how to solve problems that the world is yet to face will be a hallmark of the degree and a starting point for a suite of post graduate programmes that support and challenge industry to adapt against the disruption of future technologies, sustainable production and world leading social practice,” he said.

Source: NZAPI

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