Alan Pollard, Chief Executive, New Zealand Apples & Pears
Last week I had the privilege of attending the Hawke’s Bay Young Grower of the Year awards dinner hosted by HBFA. Yet again, the evening was very well organised, well attended, and the audience was treated not only to a superb meal but to a series of very well delivered speeches.
The need to develop our next generation of leaders has never been more important. As we transition to our workforce of the future we have to be encouraging new talent with new ideas to enter the industry and for those in the industry to develop and grow meaningful, sustainable and rewarding long term careers.
I am currently on the governance group for the development of a plant strategy. Covid taught us many things, but one learning in particular was that government and industry do not share a common understanding of what the plant sector actually is, what are its drivers for success, and what we need to do collaboratively to grow our contribution to the NZ economy and the wellbeing of our people. The governance group consists of industry, government, Maori, and science leaders, and the strategy is being formulated to ensure a common understanding of horticulture, a commitment to investing in things that will support the growth of the sector, and the removal of barriers to success.
In launching Fit for a Better World in November last year, the Prime Minister specifically highlighted that the primary sector would lead New Zealand’s post-Covid recovery. There is no doubt that horticulture is the best placed of all of those primary sectors to achieve this.
Underpinning the drivers for horticulture’s success is a permanent and seasonal workforce that is highly skilled, well trained, well rewarded, and with access to clear career pathways supported by an education and qualification framework that is fit for purpose. That is why we have taken a leadership role in the Review of Vocational Education, through our Capability Development Manager, Erin Simpson, ensuring that the future vocational education structure will deliver our workforce of the future.
A continued investment in growth and innovation will ensure that there are great opportunities for young horticulturalists to progress rewarding and exciting careers. Hawke’s Bay offers a pool of young people looking to establish long term careers, and an employment environment where those careers can foster and grow. And events such as the Young Grower competition showcase what our industry can offer.
The future of the industry depends on there being a pipeline of young and enthusiastic talent who see a career in and are passionate about horticulture, being prepared to question and challenge the norm and committed to helping to shape our future. The participants in this year’s competition have put their hands up and flagged that they have aspirations for future leadership in our industry. As industry leaders our role is to support their aspirations and provide them with every chance for success.
The 2021 Apples and Pears Conference will be held at Toitoi in Hastings 11 to 13 August, and workforce features heavily in the programme. The conference is focused on building resilience in challenging times. The sessions will look at what Covid has taught us, and explore what the future holds for Maori engagement, technology, our workforce, our orchards, the regulatory environment and how we will maximise our shareholding in Prevar. I encourage you to register for the conference at www.applesandpearsconference.nz