A seasonal labour shortage has Hawke’s Bay orchard workers calling on the region’s unemployed to give seasonal jobs a go as a way into more long-term work opportunities in the apple industry.
Once all without work, the team of eight say they are “living proof” of how taking the initiative and getting a seasonal job has set them on the path to gaining full-time employment. Now they are on their way, climbing the career ladder into different management and specialised roles and apprentiships.
Under the message “harvest your future” they are championing their industry as part of major recruitment drive to help inspire others to give it a go.
RJ Flowers horticultural cadet Lance Williams said working in the orchard is life changing.
“A year ago nothing was really going my way, but I backed myself and went for it”.
“I had dreams and aspirations of getting out there and doing something for myself, now I’m working full time and learning every day,” Mr Williams said.
Having come off the unemployment benefit, Te Aroha Toa Toa, who is working for Bostock New Zealand in a quality control role, said she could see room to move and grow, with plenty of other orchard jobs ripe for the picking.
“I’m absolutely enjoying myself, I’m loving being outside. I’m loving the fresh air,” said Ms Toa Toa.
Turners and Growers Senior Leading Hand Ryan May said there were so many branches to follow.
“I started as a casual, now I’m looking after a team of 20 on the orchard, on my first day I learnt how to graft an apple tree and I’ve never stopped learning,” said Mr May.
Forklift driver, Tennyson Kemp, who works for Mr Apple said he started stacking apple boxes, now he’s in fulltime employment. “If you show good work ethic, you can go far in this industry,” he said.
Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said the worker-led campaign launched today is the start of a major recruitment drive to attract more New Zealanders to the industry.
“With the current labour shortage and the record crop forecast, the New Zealand industry will need 20,000 seasonal and full time jobs by 2020. Over four years This will create about 450 full time and 5000 extra seasonal jobs, with over half of them in Hawke’s Bay.
Mr Pollard said when people talk about their own life experience and how joining the apple industry has changed their lives, it speaks volumes.
“Provincial New Zealand is prospering, we are growing the regional economies and creating jobs but we are facing a labour challenge.
Hawke’s Bay’s Labour Governance Group chairman Gary Jones said everyone across the industry were pulling together with a real commitment to help get more New Zealanders into better paying, long-term work that goes beyond seasonal employment.
A major project of work was underway to identify exactly how many jobs were needed, where and when and what skills and qualifications people needed, said Mr Jones.
Anyone looking for work should go to www.picknz.co.nz or call 0800picknz (742 569) where Hawke’s Bay’s Labour Governance Group has a dedicated resource for registering job interest to connect with employers.