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New Primary ITO training aims to increase fruit production skills

Primary ITO training

New Primary ITO training aims to increase fruit production skills

New fruit production training from Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga promises to make it easier for employees and businesses to get the skills they need.

The updated New Zealand Certificate in Fruit Production Level 3 offers on-the-job training with options designed to mean that people can get the training best suited to their region and business. Learners can continue with the Level 4 Certificate which is suitable for those who want to gain the skills to step up into supervising day-to-day operations, take on more responsibility and have the potential to move into a role supervising staff. When completed, the two certificates earn the learner a New Zealand Apprenticeship in Fruit Production.

This year, new Level 3 learners will join approximately 350 other people learning about fruit production on the job, across New Zealand’s orchards and farms.

Hamish Gordon, Primary ITO sector manager for horticulture production, says the new Level 3 programme makes it easier to focus on the particular skills needed for specific regions and businesses.

“For example, where frost protection is very important in the South Island, it’s much less the focus in the far north. We’re always looking at what’s important for different regions and crops, whether that’s in the Bay of Plenty, the biggest fruit growing region where we have more than 100 learners and around 100 orchards and farms for kiwifruit, avocados and apples, or in a smaller fruit growing area like New Plymouth with a handful of learners in organic fruit and olives.

“A real strength for Primary ITO is our expert team of training advisers. They’re dedicated to the industry and supporting learners and employers to upskill. They visit learners several times a year no matter where they are in the country, which makes a huge difference to succeeding in training.”

Hamish says the updated Level 3 certificate includes things like pruning younger or mature trees, frost protection and how to interpret weather maps, as well as the underlying skills and principles to set people up for a career in fruit production. “It’s very broad and does fit into a lot of systems, whether that’s blueberries, kiwifruit on vines, or tree fruit.”

He says the industry needs to focus on upskilling people as it can’t rely on being able to employ people already fully skilled.

“It’s an aging industry, with managers and directors in their 60s and we need more skilled people coming through to fill those managerial positions. Even when people are trained, they’re not necessarily choosing to step up into management so investing in training is critical.”

The Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Fruit Production was launched earlier in 2023. “It involves a lot of critical thinking about why you do things within a production system, as well as how to supervise and talk to your team.”

For more information or to enrol, contact Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga on 0800 20 80 20, email or visit to connect with your local Training Adviser.