As buds break ahead of another season, we look towards what promises to be another very challenging season with a lack of labour likely to again be a major issue. While we will again be relying heavily on the RSE workforce, the reality is that they cannot do the job on their own and we simply need to bring more local people into the industry.
We are keenly aware that attracting local labour in an environment of such low unemployment will not be easy and the Association will be actively working to support the industry in this space. We are grateful for the support of MPi who are assisting us to activate an Industry Resilience Project with an immediate focus on connecting growers with employees and attracting working holiday makers to our region. A steering group is being established with representation from a pan-sector cohort of employers as well as representatives from local and central government.
As part of our Industry Resilience Project, we will be leading this year’s “Pick the Bay” job expo which is planned for November 3rd at the A&P Showgrounds. We strongly encourage employers to get involved in this event – there will be options for everyone from small independent growers to large corporates. Please email our Business & Grower Engagement Manager, Dean Smith if you would like more information.
We also remind you all to post jobs on the PickNZ website www.picknz.co.nz. The government funded Opportunities Grows Here campaign to push people to this site is underway and this will include investment in overseas markets to target working holiday visa applicants. Growers need to have their roles listed on the site and keep them refreshed to benefit from these campaigns.
While the immediate challenges are stressful, we must not lose sight of the fact that our industry is hugely successful and we continue grow the best fruit in the world – hang in there, the future is bright.