Harvest time is in full swing with warm fine weather making it a great start to the season.
The labour issues that have been talked about pre-season have proved to be true for many employers, with others just keeping their head above water. With the bulk of the crop still to be picked and packed, there are nervous times ahead. The shortage of labour extends beyond just the pickers- the entire supply chain has been affected. It is a reminder to us all that our industry continually needs to recruit and train new and existing staff.
As our industry continues to expand with new orchard developments, our focus needs to be growing and developing our people. Our regions tertiary providers EIT and Primary ITO, offer a range of training options (many of which are free courses or very low in cost) which need to be taken up by grower businesses. People are our greatest assets- time, resources and money needs to be available for them to up-skill for the betterment of the whole industry.
The team at EIT are feeling the collective pain of the lack of workforce to pick the beautiful fruit on your trees. We are hopeful that some of the initiatives such as using students after school to fill roles will alleviate the situation. At least the long rain event that was predicted has not lasted too long and has provided some welcome moisture for the soil.
As the trainees are all busy with the harvest there are no classes until the end of April. However, this is still a busy time as we need to fulfil the requirements of our masters at Te Pukenga and NZQA. The NZQA requirement requires to produce a document called a “consistency review”. This means we need to survey both the graduates of a nominated programme as well as the employers. Ostensibly the reason is to ensure that our graduates can do what the programme aim says they should be able to do. Last year it was the turn of the Level 3 Fruit Production programme this year it is the Level 4 Certificate as well as the Level 5 Diploma. This means that Gordon will be surveying as many graduates and employers of the graduates of these two programmes by the middle of April. These deadlines are set by NZQA who have little appreciation of the busy times on orchard. So I am going to pester some of you. Sorry about that, but the surveys are very quick so should not be too onerous.
The Year 1 trainee delivery started back in January but we know that often potential talent is spotted during the harvest so we have built in catch up sessions for late starters on the 12th 13th and 14th of May. In other words it is not too late to enroll a new trainee.
Year 2 trainees have several assignments on the go. They have been sent a text to remind them to start collecting information for the harvest/fruit quality assignment which is due in at the end of April. Hopefully they will be asking you for information about the harvest!
Year 3 trainees should also be working on their assignment ‘Complying with market needs’ and should have made a start on the Human Resources assignment. There should be plenty of issues they can solve in this high pressure time.
As always if you have any queries or concerns please get in touch. For further information, please contact EIT Tutor Gordon Reid on firstname.lastname@example.org or 06 8301851.