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Pick the Bay expo leads to career opportunity


Brad Burns, left, with Thornhill Horticultural Contracting project operations manager Drew Bibby and customer field manager Dharam Singh.

The two Pick the Bay employment expos held over the past six months attracted hundreds of job seekers, one of whom has gained a new and exciting career opportunity in the horticulture industry, and received a car.

Brad Burns was unemployed and looking for work when he heard about the first expo at Toitoi - Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre in November last year.

“I was applying for everything under the sun and not getting anywhere. Ministry of Social Development told me about the expo, and my parents also saw it in the paper, so I thought I would head along and take a look.”

There he got talking to some of the team from Thornhill Horticultural Contracting who were seeking pickers - apple, berry, stonefruit and everything in between – and along with about 35 others he signed up to work.

Thornhill Horticultural Contracting project operations manager Drew Bibby said Brad started as an entry-level picker, but within a week had shown such potential they promoted him to be a supervisor at Berry Farms.

“When he first started supervising, he was not sure he could do it, but he’s turned out to be an amazing motivator - he is now supervising a team of 70 people, he keeps the team pumped up.”

Thornhill customer field manager Dharam Singh added that when the workers started they put them in the draw to win a car (second-hand) if they lasted on the job for two months.

“Brad was one of six who stayed on and he was the right person to win the car, he’s got the right attitude - we could see straight away that he had good communication skills, and now he’s supervising MSD and RSE crews all day.”

Having no prior experience in the industry was no barrier to achievement, Mr Singh said.

“It’s not about the experience, we can train people up, it’s all about having the right attitude.”

As for Brad, he’s loving his new job.

“I saw that Thornhill had a lot to offer, being more than just apples, and now I’ve got a car as well, I’m being well looked after.”

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was fantastic to hear such success stories coming from the Expo, which came about from Hastings District Council partnering 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 help support the sectors with the shortage of workers for this harvest season.

“Brad obviously has a great attitude and really wanted to work, and Thornhill have seen his potential and rewarded him.

“It’s really encouraging that an event like Pick the Bay can open up opportunities like this for jobseekers and our industry that has been so desperate to find workers.”

3 March 2021

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