How Seafood NZ engages with young people

Diagram of tuna fish processing, showing fishing boat to factory to stores in illustration.

New Zealand's vast seafood industry needs young people to stay buoyant

When kids came home from school with anti-fishing flyers and concerns about overfishing to their seafood worker parents, alarm bells rang for Seafood New Zealand. With an industry worth $1.71 billion in exports and employing around 26,000 staff, the seafood industry had to react fast to protect its future business and its future workforce base.

What happened next will give you valuable tips on how to get young people interested in your industry and how to boost your business profile in the community.

Switching young people onto seafood

Doug Saunders-Loder, President of the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen and representative on the seafood industry training organisation, spoke to learners and teachers about the industry. He found that concerns about overfishing came from educational resources that were long out of date.

“It struck me that our social licence to operate would be seriously undermined”.

Seafood New Zealand decided they had to update these resources. They investigated what other industry bodies or companies were doing with schools and chose Ministry of Done to help. Ministry of Done partnered with the Royal Society of New Zealand and seafood workers to create 20 fun and informative lesson plans that fit with the Year 7-9 school curriculum.

Professional seafood workers have visited over  500 schools, using the lessons as bases for school visits, and doing hands-on activities such as getting learners to help gut fish in food technology classes. Learners developed an interest in the industry, had fun, and concerns about overfishing were debunked.

Fishing will now be on the radar for a career when learners get older.

Six steps to good engagement

  1. Engage early - attitudes towards industries develop at a young age so it was crucial for Seafood NZ to target its engagement activities to Year 7 to 9 learners 
  2. Do your research – Seafood NZ found out why learners were disengaged, asked schools to find out why, looked at what other organisations were doing with schools. 
  3. Get help – organisations such as the Ministry of Done, teachers and the Royal Society of NZ all gave expert advice on what to do. 
  4. Get your staff on board – seafood workers made the experience interesting and authentic for learners. Learners thought they could work in this industry.
  5. Provide a challenge – Seafood NZ created resources that were hands-on and made learners think.
  6. Think long term – Seafood NZ made lessons for the curriculum that could be reused as well as made a long term plan for school visits, which meant over 500 schools engaged with them.

What future hiring issues does your industry face?

Check out our industry infographics to find out why you need to engage with young people now.

Updated 2 Oct 2019