Information sessions are popping up around Hastings as the community pulls together to assist in finding workers to fill jobs at local orchards and packhouses.
Starting today in Albert Square in downtown Hastings, the sessions are a collaboration between Hastings District Council, Ministry of Social Development and NZ Apples & Pears.
Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said the idea came out of the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs, and was aimed at helping address the labour shortage to get Hastings fruit picked, packed and exported around the world.
“Last year council helped co-ordinate two large Pick the Bay expos that showcased opportunities in the sector and helped channel many workers into jobs,” she said.
“This year because of the COVID restrictions we have not been able to hold large events like this, so instead we are working with the community, with a particular focus on Flaxmere and Camberley.
“This industry is hugely important to the Hastings economy and this seeks to provide a community response to help with the harvest.”
At the pop-ups, information was available on job opportunities with growers of pipfruit and grapes, either picking or in the packhouse, and some with options for flexible hours.
The focus was on smaller growers who did not have the same access to RSE workers that the larger operations did.
Ministry of Social Development Regional Commissioner, Karen Bartlett said MSD had met recently with the council and Apples & Pears to discuss what more could be done to help recruit for the harvest and post harvest mahi that is looming.
“A lot is already happening and this collaborative initiative of hosting open-air, targeted community information sessions, is an additional way to support this critical service within our region,” she said.
NZ Apples & Pears workforce capability manager, Erin Simpson said the industry was an important contributor to the Hawke’s Bay community, particularly from an export income and wage salary perspective.
“This initiative is important because it enables our local community to understand the vast opportunities in our industry. NZ Apples & Pears values the collaboration with the Hastings District Council and Ministry of Social Development in providing support to our local growers.”
Following the pop-up held today in Albert Square, two more are scheduled to take place in Flaxmere and Camberley next week.
In Flaxmere, a pop-up will be happening from 11am to 2pm on Tuesday, March 8 at the Flaxmere Community Centre, and on Wednesday, March 9 people can check it out at the Camberley Community Centre from 11am to 2pm.