In a first for the Horticulture sector, New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc has joined with online vocational learning provider, eCampus NZ, to design, develop and deliver export Phytosanitary training and accreditation. The arrangement will enable capacity to deliver required vocational training to employees working in packhouses and managing implementation of MPI export Phytosanitary requirements. What’s new about the training is the mix of online and face to face delivery being supported by industry and employers, combined with the offering as a micro credential. It is also a significant example of the development of vocational training modules designed in partnership between industry and trainers.
The New Zealand apple and pear industry is a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy and has a goal of achieving $1B in export returns by 2022. New Zealand is ranked first over 33 major apple producing countries ahead of Chile and the US, with exports doubling in the last four years. New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc companies are charged with meeting MPI Assurance programmes and pest inspection regulations for export fruit to maintain the integrity of our fruit exports. Infringements could cause financial or reputational damage to the brand. This means rigorous training and education for supervisors charged with phytosanitary responsibilities.
“The Apple and Pear sector require a large number of seasonal workers to be appropriately accredited in Phytosanitary requirements and we were seeking a new way of delivering on our training requirements. Old ways of delivery were no longer sustainable for the large numbers of staff requiring accreditation. The pilot involves eCampus NZ delivering three online modules and Apples and Pears delivering the complementary face to face training. This model means that the online learning component can be undertaken by Packhouse staff at any time prior to undertaking the face to face module, it offers flexibility, ease of access and independence. It also means we can now deliver to large numbers of staff with fewer resources,” said Erin Simpson, Apples and Pears.
The pilot course started in Hawkes Bay in December with 15 individuals enrolled on the first cohort.
“A micro credential is acknowledgment of a learner’s achievements of a specific skill, knowledge or competency. It is a stand alone credential which verifies achievements and is awarded by a credible body. Micro credentials are becoming more of a feature in our learning environment and are ideal for this type of training. This is a perfect example of an industry joining with the vocational sector to meet a training need in the most effective way. This partnership approach is the way of the future and a key reflection of the outcomes that have driven the vocational sector review,” said Pamela Simpson, CE of eCampus NZ.
At the conclusion of the pilot, the results will be evaluated with the goal of transitioning the programme into other areas in the food and fibre sector.