[13 March/Rural Life]

Young New Zealanders are slow in coming forward to work for the dairy industry. Ads Hendriks, Federated Farmers Spokesperson for South Canterbury reported that after recently posted a job position, only one of nine candidates was a New Zealander, with the one New Zealander being unreliable. Mr Hendriks said he was always keen to employ a Kiwi, but it was not always possible and there were a lot of issues involved. Federated Farmers reported the deteriorating situation is not confined to the dairy sector – it includes meat/wool and arable farming too. In the January Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey, 42 percent of 1400 farmers who answered a questionnaire said they continued to have difficulties recruiting skilled/motivated staff and things had deteriorated in the past six months. Mr Hendriks said there were still keen young New Zealanders getting into the industry and the rewards were there for those who are passionate. The new government rules of overseas workers being able to stay for three years and then standing down was frustrating according to Mr Hendriks. This results in workers choosing other countries instead. Federated Farmers National Dairy Chairman Chris Lewis stated gaps in the workforce is just one of the challenges faced by the industry.