Learning on the land: Semillero Rural students arrive

Issue: Volume 94, Number 14

Posted: 10 August 2015
Reference #: 1H9crn

Thirty-two students from regional Chile are currently in New Zealand to learn more about New Zealand’s world-leading dairy and horticultural sector.

Semillero Rural, the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture’s scholarship scheme for vocational students from the regions of Chile, enables students from agricultural schools to learn new skills, develop their English language capabilities and apply their new knowledge by working on a New Zealand dairy farm or in fruit production.

Students then return to apply their new skills at home.

This year 18 students are enrolled in programmes at the National Trade Academy (NTA) and 14 students are studying at Otago Polytechnic in Cromwell.

“The 18 students enrolled with NTA are participating in an English plus Agriculture Programme,” says Craig. “The programme consists of six weeks of learning English, including agriculture terminology, and developing knowledge of health and safety, milk production, fencing, animal husbandry, pasture management and more.

“The students enjoy visiting local farms, learning to ride motorbikes and quad bikes, and learning new fencing skills. The biggest difference between farms in Chile and here in Canterbury is the scale of farming. In spite of New Zealand being a much smaller country, our farms are much bigger in terms of land area, the number of cows milked and the use of technology to improve production.”

During trips to recruit students and build the programme, Craig’s learnt to build relationships first and to be flexible.

“You can’t just take a programme over to Chile and say this is it. We need to be flexible and ask what would work for them,” he advises.

“The other point is to be patient. Nothing happens overnight as there is a process that has to occur. However, once you get final approval it will happen quickly so, as a business, you have to be ready to act. Feedback is also important and you will need to visit the market more than once to build relationships and trust.

“In my view it is better to look for partner organisations, such as institutions with similar courses, who can promote NZ study opportunities to their graduates, who can then follow up with agents as to enrolments. Chilean parents are fully involved with the whole process and they like to be able to know who they are dealing with,” he adds.

In 2008, NTA contracted a person in Chile to act as their representative, a move that has expanded their network of contacts and proved highly successful.

“The support of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the early years was critical, as is the more recent support of Education New Zealand as they understand the market and can assist with introductions that we likely couldn’t make ourselves.”

The ‘Semillero Rural’ scholarship was the pilot for the Primary Sector Training Visa recently approved in New Zealand for Chile.

Craig has recently received confirmation that another group of students will be arriving under this scholarship scheme in 2016.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 12:39 pm, 10 August 2015

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