Jobs for Kiwis
A recent report from the Salvation Army, asserting that there are 75,000 young Kiwis displaced by immigrants and educational inequality, has attracted a fair amount of criticism, including a challenge from Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce.
In horticulture, we are doing what we can to employ young Kiwis. As an industry we have a policy of employing Kiwis first, and we run several programmes to facilitate this, and encourage more young people into the industry. For example:
- Project Hua in Hawke’s Bay is focused on placing 540 additional local people into the sector over the next three years. This includes placing 300 beneficiaries (made up of seasonal, temporary and permanent roles) and 200 rangatahi (young people) into sustainable jobs. Project Hua is led by Ngati Kahungunu, in collaboration with the Crown and large horticulture employers, as well as with Pipfruit NZ. It is linking employers seeking to fill permanent jobs with whanau, predominantly rangatahi, via tailored recruitment, design and delivery of training, work experience, placement into work and pastoral support.
- The Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) Bay of Plenty region is working with the kiwifruit industry to establish the Kiwifruit Pipeline Initiative to support more local people on benefits into permanent work. The initiative has been running for 12 months and has so far placed approximately 90 people following focused selection, pre-employment training and pastoral support.
On the other hand, our employers are also acutely aware of the problems with employing some young New Zealanders, such as:
- Drugs: For obvious reasons, training institutions and the horticulture industry in general take a dim view of P and other drugs. These cannot be allowed for many reasons, but particularly health and safety of workers.
- Reliability: Turning up to work on time every work day, and staying for a full day’s work, challenges some young Kiwis.
- Skills: Horticulture is an extremely skill-based industry, but these skills can be learned and employers are always looking for young Kiwis who have the aptitude to develop the required skills, along with an enduring career in horticulture.
Between 27,600 and 35,800 people work in the horticulture and viticulture industries picking, pruning and packing each year, and most of those are Kiwis; the RSE Pacific Island scheme only accounts for 9,500 of those workers.
We need another 25,000 workers in the industry over the coming years, and we would love for these jobs to go to young, hopeful New Zealanders.
- Mike Chapman, CEO