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Hundreds attend Pick the Bay employment expo

Pick the bay crowd

About 500 people poured through the doors of Functions on Hastings at Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre last night, eager to find out more about job opportunities in the horticulture and viticulture industries at the Pick the Bay Employment Expo.

Hastings District Council partnered with New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc, local government colleagues, MSD, MPI, MBIE, industry trainers and representative groups as well as 20-plus growers to hold the expo, to help support the sectors with the current shortage of workers for this harvest season.

The stands at the event had information about summer work opportunities in the industry – from picking to forklift driving and working in the packhouse – to longer-term career opportunities.

Representatives from EIT also attended, giving people training advice, and information about pastoral care with He Poutama Rangatahi providers. 

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she was astounded by the number of people who dropped into the event that ran from 4pm to 6pm, and that it showed the value of all the agencies working together to promote the industry to local workers.

“There were hundreds of people lining up outside Toitoi waiting to come in and talk to our growers – the response to the call for workers was outstanding.  It shows that our community really wants to work in the horticulture and viticulture sectors.

“Some people will be starting work from today as a result of talking to growers there, and others will have learnt a lot more about the fantastic jobs and career pathways available to everyone in the community.”

Event attendees ranged in age from high school students to retirees, and Mrs Hazlehurst said local growers who were in need of reliable teams were keen to offer conditions that worked for everyone.

New Zealand Apples and Pears’ Gary Jones said that it was the biggest turn out he had ever seen for an industry event.

“In difficult times our community has shown real confidence in the plants industry and they see the opportunities it has to offer. There are hundreds of permanent and seasonal jobs on offer here in an industry and region that will continue to grow well into the future. That resilience is hard to find and we are so fortunate to have it here in Hawke’s Bay.

“This Employment Expo has given industry some confidence that it will meet its early labour needs but concerns are still for harvest. We will need another Employment Expo pre-harvest as well.”

Freshmax operations manager, orchard division, Shane Flynn was manning a stand with an extra hook to get people’s attention – the chance to go in the draw to win a Magpies jersey.

He said with the pear crop being ready a bit earlier, Freshmax had already started employing people, but the expo provided another valuable opportunity to attract more.

 “We’ve got a bit of momentum going, but the key will be to keep everyone on board and engaged.”

11 November 2020

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