"Not only does New Zealand produce the world’s best fruit and vegetables, we are also producing the best people to grow the best produce," says Mike Chapman, Chair of HortNZ. "This is a collective effort across product groups, district associations and growers. With support from the Provincial Growth Fund, we have managed to put in place a network of Career Progression Managers and – with redeployed Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity staff – to expand this network, so that we cover many of our growing areas, from Northland through to Central Otago. This network is a good example of an industry-government partnership, and adapting to meet the challenges of Covid."
The Career Progression Managers’ role is to work with employers, workers and potential workers in their areas, to attract people into horticulture, create fulfilling long-lasting careers, and increase the number of apprentices and people studying for diplomas and degrees in their regions. This initiative is all about getting more and more New Zealanders involved in horticulture, long term. The outcomes are continued growth, not only for horticulture but for regional New Zealand, at a time when we need more jobs for New Zealanders and people need access to affordable, healthy food.
The Career Progression Manager initiative is an integral part in horticulture’s development of sustainable skill and employment pathways into horticulture.
- GoHorticulture or GoHort went live in August, to attract people to horticulture by showcasing careers and opportunities. It comes at a time when the industry is on the hunt for people to help with horticulture’ post-Covid recovery. Since August, nearly 4,000 have visited the site and 3,200 have accessed the job board.
- A group of Year 13 students from Tasman have created a card game about horticulture careers that has come up trumps, with packs of cards being distributed to schools around the country. A pack of cards is made up of 40 different horticulture jobs, with each card giving the job’s potential salary, length of training, level of hands-on work, along with job opportunity rating. Up to five people can play the game and in a classroom setting, it’s designed as a fun way to learn about our industry’s wide range of careers, beyond the image of simply picking fruit.
- Engagement to increase Māori participation in horticulture in Northland and Hawkes Bay is increasing. One example is the Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust in Hawkes Bay, which is investing in pipfruit. The Trust has set aside 80 hectares of Māori land to plant apple trees while the Ngawha Innovation Park is in the process of seeking Provincial Growth Fund support for its horticulture development initiative.
- The Career Progression Manager team is directly responsible for getting 181 people into horticulture apprenticeships, and has collectively been involved in arranging training for more than 800 people.
"In summary, the programme is now 'hitting its straps', just when we need it to help redeploy New Zealanders. It is also taking full advantage of government initiatives, with programmes to encourage people into the industry and training suited to current needs. This is the way of the future and one that the horticulture industry is fully embracing," concludes Mike.