An innovative scheme will supercharge efforts towards Aotearoa New Zealand becoming Predator Free by 2050 and provide training for up to 51 apprentices, Minister of Conservation Kiritapu Allan says.
Supported by $4.5 million of Jobs for Nature funding, the scheme is designed and delivered by the Predator Free New Zealand Trust. It will increase the number of experienced predator control specialists by funding apprenticeships across the country through partnerships with specialist pest control companies, eco-sanctuaries, and large landscape scale projects. Support staff will also be employed to coordinate the programme.
“The Predator Free apprentice scheme is a fantastic example of how the programme can help to protect nature, create nature-based jobs, and deliver a lasting conservation legacy in communities,” Kiritapu Allan said.
It is expected apprentices will come from a range of backgrounds and experiences, and jobs will be targeted at those who are looking for work and wishing to re-train in predator control and conservation.
They will be placed with experienced practitioners to undergo a two-year training programme with the aim of establishing a career in animal pest management.
During their apprenticeship they will complete the NZQA Certificate in Pest Operations (Level 3), various other industry qualifications, and learn directly from experienced pest control specialists. They will also provide local on-the-ground support to conservation community groups, landowners, and other projects.
Predator Free New Zealand Trust’s General Manager Jessi Morgan said that New Zealand has the highest rate of threatened species in the world.
“We formed the Predator Free NZ Trust too encourage, support and connect New Zealanders in their efforts to control and remove introduced predators (including rats, possums, mustelids and feral cats) from Aotearoa so our native species can thrive.”
In addition to apprentices, up to four support roles will be created to oversee the programme delivery.
“This is a really exciting initiative,” Kiritapu Allan said. “It is about helping local economic growth and providing much-needed career opportunities in our post-Covid world.”
“By increasing the number of predator control specialists in the field we can supercharge the important work already being undertaken by other agencies, community groups, and individuals.”
Apprenticeships will be advertised locally by the host organisations. Some candidates will also be identified through local networks in affected communities. Jobs in the support team will be advertised through the Predator Free New Zealand Trust.