A levy will help modernise the $35 million strawberry industry, says Michael Ahern, executive manager of Strawberry Growers NZ Inc.
Regional Career Coordinator Emma Boase has hit the ground running working with New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI) and Massey University to connect horticultural students with local exporters and growers.
“This is an industry with huge potential. Everyone is so positive saying ‘yes’ to growing great careers and jobs for us young New Zealanders,” Boase said.
“I’m here in Hawke’s Bay to show and bring young Kiwis like me to the region where it’s all happening, supporting them to discover what’s on offer, how they can learn, where they can work and to help them go for it. I want to see young people like me seize these incredible opportunities so we can reach their potential and be part of a growing and dynamic horticultural industry now and in the future,” she said.
The Government’s $1.1m Provincial Growth Fund investment, announced by the Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones this week, will see five regional co-coordinators dedicated to actively getting more New Zealanders into successful jobs in the horticulture industry.
NZAPI capability development manager Erin Simpson said it means for the first time, the apple and pear industry has a complete education and career pathway offering an entry point for every level and role.
“The new regional coordinators will enable us to better connect into education providers so we can share a far more positive story about horticulture to help us attract more growing young minds to our industry and the great career opportunities opening up,” he said.
The programme is the brainchild of the Horticulture Capability Group (HCG) a pan-industry initiative comprising apples and pears, kiwifruit, avocados, vegetables, Hawke’s Bay Fruit Growers Association and Horticulture New Zealand, working together with government across horticulture sectors and regions.
The HCG has been identifying and developing ways to meet joint objectives for permanent, better paying skilled jobs for New Zealanders in the different sectors with long term career prospects.
“Our global success is creating hundreds of new and exciting career opportunities, with more than 2,300 jobs in the next 10 years in the apple industry alone, ” said Simpson.
“But the greatest challenge has always been getting young people to see us as a great industry offering them a very bright and rewarding future.
“It’s fantastic to have Emma here working alongside us. We have fostered a new and growing relationship with Massey University and it’s all coming together.
“Having a fully resourced and dedicated team focused on increasing the uptake of industry training and tertiary study including diplomas and the new degree, working across New Zealand’s major horticultural regions will make a huge difference for us.
“Over two years our industry has now developed a full education pathway which is relevant and adaptable to every changing demand it takes to be the best country in the world to grow and export apples and pears,” he said.
Based in Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu (through Massey University), Upper South Island and Otago, the team will be responsible for connecting and supporting New Zealanders not only into study and full-time work but importantly into careers where they can also earn while they learn.
“We’re doing all we can to make sure New Zealanders want to join us, where they can see great futures in an industry that will take them places.”