[26 July/Stuff]

Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman, said the horticulture industry needed to identify and fix its bad employers if it wanted to attract workers. In 2016 there was a labour shortfall of 6,000 workers, and he was confident that would be a larger figure this year. A seasonal labour shortage was declared in May for the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry. The shortage was blamed on a larger harvest and a decreased number of backpacker and international student workers. Mr Chapman added the industry has employers who were not operating as they should, and they had to unite to deal with them. The largest portion of the horticultural workforce were New Zealander’s. New Zealand permanent staff worked an average of 38.4 weeks a year. Mr Chapman noted it was surprising an industry the size of horticulture had no apprentice programme or degree course.