The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is partnering with Horticulture New Zealand to maximise the number of New Zealanders employed by the sector and ensure the sustainability of horticultural growth, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.
“The PGF will invest $1.1 million in six horticulture career coordinators up and down the country to tackle the labour supply issues facing the horticulture sector,” Shane Jones said.
“In Northland, PGF investment will support an established Horticultural Careers Progression Manager for an additional 12 months. This person coordinates information about local labour demand and supply and maintains strong relationships with employers and regional partners, such as Northland Inc, local schools, relevant agencies and other training providers.
“To build on early success in Northland, the PGF will invest to establish a further five horticulture and viticulture careers coordinators who will work throughout the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Upper South Island, Otago and Manawatū regions to help match potential workers with potential employers.
“Horticulture is New Zealand’s fourth largest primary industry – worth over $5.6 billion to our economy in 2017. However, people capability has been highlighted as a clear focus for the industry.
“I’m pleased the PGF is able to partner with HortNZ, which represents 5,000 commercial fruit and vegetable growers who employ more than 60,000 workers.
“Horticulture is a priority sector for the Provincial Growth Fund but there’s no point trying to expand the prospects of this industry if we don’t have people to fill the jobs we’re creating.
“Through our investment we expect to see a marked improvement in the amount of sustainable employment opportunities for domestic workers to meet our goal of having a fit-for-purpose workforce that meets industry standards.
“At the moment, the industry has about 50 apprentices a year. This project aims to double that – a move that is well supported by the sector, local and central Government and regional economic agencies.
“The regions involved in this project have an over-representation of people not in employment, education or training (NEET) and Māori. A major focus for Horticulture NZ will be engaging with schools and bridging the gap from education to employment.
“We have an opportunity to hook into this untapped pipeline and benefit our young people, our regions and a sector which has a proud and prosperous history in New Zealand,” Shane Jones said.
Horticulture New Zealand is an incorporated society that is itself governed by a grower-elected Board of Directors.
Employers will have to undertake an accreditation process before being accepted as a potential employer of an apprentice. This includes agreeing to standards which set out minimum employment, training, health & safety, pastoral care provisions as well as a commitment from employers to professional development and upskilling.