Funding of $1.8 million, announced yesterday by the Government to grow the skills and capability of Tairāwhiti’s regional labour force, is good news for horticulture, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.
“We are expecting significant growth in horticulture in the Gisborne area, with estimates of about 1200 more people required in the next three to five years for production, related processing, and associated services,” Mr Chapman says.
“So to see this money made available to do things that will benefit horticulture, such as supporting workers to get driver and truck driver licences, supporting the seasonal labour force, and $150,000 towards a coordinator in the horticulture sector, is really significant.
“This funding will go a long way towards achieving opportunities for locals to better meet our employers’ needs. And if horticulture grows in the area, that will have a positive impact on both the regional and New Zealand’s economy.
“Horticulture New Zealand participated in the Gisborne forum on workforce needs in October last year and we supported local industry leaders asking for a horticulture workforce strategy, a coordinator for the region, and integrated employment and training initiatives for permanent and season workers.
“Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and some of her colleagues attended that forum. They clearly listened to the needs of the region and have done something to ensure horticulture and other industries can reach their potential.
“This is a vital regional economy for horticulture and we want to see more New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, in the Tairāwhiti region given the opportunity to explore long and rewarding careers in horticulture.”