Demographics of new entrants
Key findings

As the food and fibre sector makes strides towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce, it is useful to understand the demographics of the changing workforce to assess progress. This study found that 61% of new entrants into the food and fibre workforce are over the age of 25, suggesting new entrants are not just those leaving secondary school. In addition, only 21% of the new entrants are women, demonstrating a weakness in attraction programmes. The agricultural industry is the most successful industry from what was studied at attracting women, especially from tertiary institutions.


The food and fibre sectors are putting effort into making their workforce diverse and inclusive. It is therefore important to understand the existing workforce and new entrant demographics to outline where there are strengths and weaknesses in their attraction programmes. Having insight into the talent pools of various demographics can also assist with strategies on recruiting and promoting this type of work to more specific audiences.

This report analyses the demographics of new entrants into the food and fibre sector. The three key variables assessed are age, gender and ethnicity.

Age group

The dashboard breaks down new entrants into age groups. Each age group is dividing into that the primary activity of the individual was the year before entering the food and fibre sectors.

Majority of the new entrants are in the 20-25 age group. There is a decrease in number of new entrants as the age groups increase. However, while there is a high concentration of new entrants in the younger age groups, 61% of the new entrants are above the age of 25, with the majority of those bring career changers. As the age groups progress a higher proportion of the new entrants are career changers.

The agricultural industry demonstrates a younger demographic of new entrants than the other industries studied. Secondary school students account for 53% of the new entrants in the 15-20 age group for the agricultural industry.



There are significantly more menentering the food and fibre sector than women. Only 16% of secondary school students moving into the food and fibre sectors are women while 26% of tertiary graduates entering the food and fibre sectors are women.

The agricultural industry has demonstrated the highest overall success in attracting women into the workforce. Upon finishing tertiary education and entering the food and fibre sector, 39% of those choosing the agricultural industry are women, while only 29% enter manufacturing and 14% choose construction.



The new entrants are predominantly of European decent. The existing workforce is 71% European and 15% Māori. However, of the new entrants, 20% of career changers, 24% of secondary school leavers and 21% of tertiary graduates are Māori.



Access to the anonymised data used in this study was provided by Statistics New Zealand in accordance with security and confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 1975, and secrecy provisions of the Tax Administration Act 1994. The findings are not Official Statistics. The results in this paper are the work of the authors, not Statistics NZ, and have been confidentialised to protect individuals, households, businesses, and other organisations from identification. Read our full disclaimer here.


Outcomes of new entrants in food and fibre sectors

Compare how outcomes compare between different talent sources of new entrants


Where do food and fibre industries source their talent?

The food and fibre sectors are facing a growing shortage of workers. The solution may not lie with secondary school graduates.

New entrants Source of new entrants Demographics