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New recruits learn to drive tractors after losing jobs in pandemic

Four very large wheels, a ton of horsepower and a new career on the farm.

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With thousands of New Zealanders out of work due to Covid-19, many are now looking to greener pastures in the rural sector. Source: 1 NEWS

The reality for more than 100 keen southerners is now learning how to drive a tractor after losing their jobs to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Run at Telford in South Otago, 120 people have signed up for the six-week course.

Most of them recently lost their jobs as airline pilots, jet boat operators, vets, pharmacists and tour guides among others.

“I love it and these tractors are amazing,” said former tour guide Erin Short.

Interest in the course has been red-hot, with organisers having to put a cap on entrants.

It’s funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, who are spending nearly a million dollars to fund a range of primary industry activities.

Former winery tour guide Andrew Robinson said it was an easy decision to sign up after losing his job.

“So I was doing wine tours in Queenstown, that was a great summer job. Unfortunately with Covid that’s not happening anymore,” he said.

Rural Contractors New Zealand estimate there are roughly 700 jobs nationwide available for skilled machinery workers.

While this is an entry level job, it’s a job all entrants will gladly take with open arms.