With the gargantuan task ahead of trying to attract 10,000 workers into Hawke’s Bay for the upcoming fruit harvest season, the local horticulture and viticulture industry is hosting an Employment Expo and information session on Tuesday 10 November at ToiToi in Hastings from 4pm to 6pm.

The Growers Employment Expo is part of a plan that industry, together with MPI, MSD, MBIE, HBDHB and the region’s local government leaders, has delivered to the government to resolve the urgent need for seasonal labour.

The event will showcase summer work and career opportunities on offer in the sector, with EIT also lending its support with training advice, and information on pastoral care from He Poutama Rangatahi providers.

The 10,000 workers needed between November and April are for thinning, picking, packing and processing jobs in the region’s horticulture and viticulture industries.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says the industry needs everyone’s help in these unprecedented times.

“More than 8,000 local people are permanently employed in Hawke’s Bay in and around the horticulture and viticulture sectors, from pack-houses to the port. However these jobs are at risk if the fruit is not picked. Our horticulture and viticulture industries are extremely valuable to our region, contributing around $1 billion to our economy so helping with the seasonal labour shortage is a top priority of all us. That is why we are working on this together.”

All job seekers and those interested in seasonal work are encouraged to come to the Expo, and the event provides the opportunity for growers to tell positive stories about career pathways and the innovations or ‘out of the box’ thinking they are using to attract Kiwi job seekers.

Employers will showcase what jobs are available, when the jobs will be available, and how people can get involved.

Xan Harding from the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers’ Association says growers are thinking very differently about ways and means of hiring their staff.

“The industry knows it needs to be innovative and flexible when it comes to employing different workers.  They know that expecting people to work six days a week, 10 hours a day is not going to suit many people and they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to have the right person in their team – whether that be offering accommodation, transport, meals, training and upskilling and flexibility around work hours.

“There are some great examples of growers diversifying their recruitment to help fill the shortage of workers. There are vineyards in Hastings employing retirees to help with thinning. They are thinking of every possible option to make sure locals are employed and their crops are well looked after.”

New Zealand Apples and Pears is also getting creative with a new campaign, Pick Tiki, to entice school leavers and tertiary students 16 years and over looking for seasonal work.

“Pick Tiki sources good employers and links them with students, and can help them to find accommodation and transport. The service encourages students to get together with their friends and explore their own backyards. Through the summer, the Pick Tiki team will work with growers to host barbecues and activities that Pick Tiki students can attend in their free time,” says Pick Tiki’s Summer Wynyard.

Mayor Hazlehurst says our growers need a reliable team and are keen to offer conditions that will work for everyone. “With different varieties of fruit comes different types of work. You might be surprised what’s on offer. Come and have a chat to see where you could find your next job. There’s work available now.”

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