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Trainee programme success

Trainee programme success

Trainee programme success

A programme for Trainee Technical Field and Horticultural Representatives was introduced by PGG Wrightson in 2018. Since then, 17 young professionals have successfully completed the 18-month-long programme, with five of 17 opting for the horticultural option.

Kirsten Ellmers, one of the 2018 horticultural trainees, topped the company’s Academy Programme where participants work toward a National Certificate in Rural Servicing through the Primary Industry Training Organisation.

Both 2018 horticultural trainees now have full-time roles with the company and the two horticultural trainees who started in 2019 are nearly finished the programme and are set to be offered full-time roles. The 2020 horticultural trainee is just four months into the programme.

PGG Wrightson Human Resources Advisor, Matt McLachlan, says the trainee programme provides participants with a wide range of skills to prepare for life on the road as a fully-fledged Representative. “Trainees enjoy exposure to the wider PGG Wrightson business and the primary sector industry, attend relevant crop sector meetings and are mentored by an experienced Representative”, explains Matt.

Hastings Trainee Technical Horticultural Representative (THR) Hannah Greaves values the opportunity to learn from experienced THRs like Gary Speers. “I am lucky to be in an area with a lot of different crops with some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry working here,” says Hannah who worked in a PGG Wrightson store before being accepted as a trainee. “The network of people you meet is also valuable.”

Hannah completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science but found her passion in horticulture. “I have focused my training and study on pipfruit to date. There is so much to learn about orchard practices and disease and pest management for specific markets but will also grow my knowledge of vegetable crops and viticulture.”

Christchurch-based Pete McNaughton came across the programme when finishing his botany degree at Otago University. “I have always had a strong interest in biology and plant life to grow high quality food sustainably, everything from apples to zucchini,” Pete says, who is mentored by THR Rob Wards. “I take every opportunity that comes my way to improve my horticulture product knowledge. The exposure to many areas of PGG Wrightson’s business is invaluable.”

Pete adds: “The level of detail and support from Milton Munro and Matt McLachlan involved in both the trainee and Academy programmes has been amazing, especially through the COVID lockdown.”

Te Puke-based trainee Josh Mitchell has embraced the chance to work with other THRs, see what they do each day and the value of building sound relationships with growers. “Going to grower field days and understanding the various techniques and practices is all great learning,” says Josh who enjoys learning about newer crops for the region like berries as well as the mainstays of kiwifruit and avocados. “Every day is different as we move through the seasons and growing periods for each crop.”

If you’re interested to know when applications for the 2021 trainee programme open, please visit