Seasonal labour shortages in Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty

05 April 2019.

The Ministry of Social Development is extending the seasonal labour shortage in Hawke’s Bay and declaring a shortage in Bay of Plenty.

In Hawke’s Bay the declaration is being extended an additional six weeks until 20 May.

In Bay of Plenty the shortage is for a six-week period between 15 April and 27 May.

Declaring a labour shortage allows visitor visa holders to apply for a variation of conditions and enable people to work in the respective regions.

MSD Group General Manager Client Service Delivery, Kay Read, says seasonal labour efforts involve industry, local and central government agencies working closely together.

"We recognise an improved commitment by the horticulture and viticulture sectors to better manage their workforce requirements.

"Our focus remains on connecting New Zealanders to sustainable work and seasonal work is a step towards achieving this. We will continue to refer jobseekers to available vacancies across all industry sectors.

"Declaring or extending a labour shortage is a last resort measure and something that’s done once all other levers to find enough workers has been exhausted.

"A declaration also has the effect of highlighting to New Zealanders, who may be willing and able, that there are job opportunities available for them."

Hawke’s Bay extension

East Coast Regional Commissioner Annie Aranui says there is still a worker shortage in the Hawke’s Bay with up to six weeks of the main harvest left.

"We’ve been closely monitoring the shortage, reassessing the supply and demand weekly as the season progresses.

"Later variety apple crops have matured earlier than anticipated, and industry tells us there’s still about 60 per cent of the overall crop left to pick.

"We’re still working hard to fill positions and will continue to support New Zealanders into sustainable employment opportunities available in the industry and we will support industry as they seek to develop a future workforce plan."

From January to March 2019, 375 people have been placed in horticultural work in the Hawkes Bay and more than 1400 have come off the benefit and gone into work.

Bay of Plenty declaration

In the Bay of Plenty, forecasts expect the peak harvest season for the kiwifruit industry to run until around May 2019 and there is currently a worker shortage of about 3,800 people.

Bay of Plenty Regional Commissioner Mike Bryant says there are a number of MSD initiatives partnering with industry to help prepare and place jobseekers into seasonal work.

"We have a dedicated horticulture employment team of MSD work brokers who liaise year-round with employers in the sector and understand the industry needs. They support employers and workers with training, transport, accommodation, equipment and more."

Since July 2018, MSD has placed more than 1000 people into jobs in the local kiwifruit industry, nearly 500 of them since January 2019; with many more prepared to start work once the main picking period is underway.

"These roles are an opportunity for people seeking to get back into the workforce and can open the door to other things. Many seasonal workers experience a variety of work in a range of locations and are able to stay employed year round using their diverse skills."

Editor’s notes:

  • MSD declared a six-week labour shortage in Hawke’s Bay on 15 February 2019, which came into effect on Monday 25 February until 5 April.
  • MSD provides work brokerage support, training, upskilling opportunities, holding workshops and specialised seminars, job share programmes, and financial and case management support for clients, in particular ‘Skills for Industry’ partnerships with the sector to help people get their forklift licence, practical on-the-job experience or support with transport to and from work.
  • Last season ‘Work the Seasons’ employment portal was also launched where both local and overseas job-seekers can visit to see what jobs are where and when - we’ve also been promoting various employers websites to our clients.
  • Contrary to some recent coverage, no stand-down is imposed when people have been in part-time employment or full-time employment (more than 30 hrs per week) for less than 26 weeks.
  • Only if a person leaves their employment without good and sufficient reason would an unemployment stand-down be considered
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