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Ministry of Social Development working with Hawke’s Bay horticultural industry ahead of apple harvest

29 January 2019.

The Ministry of Social Development is working closely with the Hawke’s Bay horticultural industry to continue preparations for the upcoming apple harvest.

Seasonal work - Boy on tractor

East Coast Regional Commissioner Annie Aranui says the Ministry is working with the industry as part of the solution to meet the labour market needs in a numbers of ways.

"Our regional labour team actively engages with key industry partners, growers and other government officials throughout the year. Whilst looking to help meet seasonal labour needs we have collective focus on supporting New Zealanders into sustainable employment opportunities available in the industry. We understand the industry’s latest call for a labour shortage, and we’re working closely to help them prepare for harvest."

For a regional labour shortage to be declared, the Ministry requires evidence from the industry of harvest predictions, increased labour demand and to ensure all efforts have been made to connect a broad range of available New Zealanders to the work.

"The industry has told us they are expecting an increase in production and will be able to give us a clearer picture when their crop estimates are due in the next couple of weeks - this will help inform our future decisions," Mrs Aranui says.

"We do recognise matching seasonal labour is complex and dynamic. There are numerous factors at play, including the weather, crop size and quality, the number of tourists and visitors attracted to the region, as well as the availability of accommodation and we are helping with these things where we can."

Work and Income put considerable effort into supporting jobseekers to fill seasonal jobs. This includes working with clients through recruitment seminars or one-on-one contact, providing work brokerage support, as well as skills training and supporting people with transport and accommodation needs.

"How to best cope with the challenging labour environment has been a recurring issue over recent years and the industry has the primary responsibility for finding workers and developing a future sustainable workforce.

"We acknowledge the efforts that industry has made to meet their labour requirements over the past year. We are seeing better workforce planning, an increased focus on training and qualifications, the sharing of best practice and more seasonal employment coordinators on the ground. We’re also continuing to support industry to develop further new initiatives to assist in these matters."

Although largely temporary, seasonal roles are an opportunity for people seeking to get back into the workforce and can open the door to other things, Mrs Aranui says.

"We encourage people to talk to us so we can support them based on their individual circumstances and ultimately help them into work."

A labour shortage declaration means people in New Zealand on a Visitor Visa can apply for these roles.

Editor's notes:

Our regional labour management team run activities and initiatives year round to help our industry partners to prepare and meet the need for workers over the summer period. These include:

  • Providing work brokerage support, where our team of dedicated account managers work with key growers, packhouses and orchards to keep abreast of their needs and check on progress of new employees.
  • Running specialised seasonal recruitment seminars and engaging face-to-face with work-ready jobseekers.
  • Providing pre-employment training and upskilling opportunities, 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.
  • Accommodation is a constant challenge for Hawke’s Bay region and we work closely with our seasonal employers and community partners to accommodate people the best we can amid a busy summer period of key tourist events.
  • We use our service centres to promote all seasonal work opportunities, and seasonal employers often set up recruitment drives from our Hawke’s Bay sites.
  • Last season we also launched the ‘Work the Seasons’ employment portal where both local and overseas job-seekers can visit to see what jobs are where and when.
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