The Government has announced funding of $1.1 million to address worker shortages in the horticulture sector.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the funding from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) would help Horticulture New Zealand attract more New Zealanders into the industry.
"The PGF will invest $1.1 million in six horticulture career coordinators up and down the country to tackle the labour supply issues facing the horticulture sector," he said.
In Northland, the PGF investment would support an established Horticultural Careers Progression Manager for an additional 12 months.
This person coordinates information about local labour demand and supply and maintains strong relationships with employers and regional partners, such as Northland Inc, local schools, relevant agencies and other training providers.
"To build on early success in Northland, the PGF will invest to establish a further five horticulture and viticulture careers coordinators who will work throughout the Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Upper South Island, Otago and Manawatū regions to help match potential workers with potential employers," said Jones.
"Horticulture is New Zealand's fourth largest primary industry - worth over $5.6 billion to our economy in 2017. However, people capability has been highlighted as a clear focus for the industry."
He said horticulture was a priority sector for the Provincial Growth Fund but there was no point trying to expand the prospects of the industry if there weren't people to fill the jobs being created.
"Through our investment we expect to see a marked improvement in the amount of sustainable employment opportunities for domestic workers to meet our goal of having a fit-for-purpose workforce that meets industry standards."
He said the regions involved in this project have an over-representation of people not in employment, education or training (NEET) and Māori.
A major focus for Horticulture NZ would be engaging with schools and bridging the gap from education to employment.
"We have an opportunity to hook into this untapped pipeline and benefit our young people, our regions and a sector which has a proud and prosperous history in New Zealand."
Horticulture New Zealand is an incorporated society that is governed by a grower-elected Board of Directors.