Coronavirus: New campaign to get COVID-19 unemployed into dairy farming

There is a shortfall of at least 1000 employees for the new dairy season.
There is a shortfall of at least 1000 employees for the new dairy season. Photo credit: Getty

A campaign has been launched to get New Zealanders who have lost their jobs because of the COVID1-9 pandemic to take up dairy farming.

The new Go Dairy campaign comes as the sector struggles to find enough workers ahead of the new season on June 1.

As well as encouraging people to consider work on dairy farms, the campaign also includes entry-level training to help their transition to farming.

DairyNZ's chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said opening the door to new people would also help fill the gap this coming season that farm employers have in the recent years of low unemployment filled with new migrant staff, who are now impacted by border restrictions.

DairyNZ among groups working with the Government to ensure the 4,500 migrant staff already living in New Zealand and working in farm teams can have existing visas extended.

"Even with all the current migrant dairy staff being retained, there is still the shortfall of at least 1000 employees for the new dairy season that starts in just three weeks," said Dr Mackle.

Work was available on dairy farms across the country, especially in Waikato, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

Dr Mackle said even more positions were likely to become available as the new season got underway.

DairyNZ's chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said at least 1000 jobs were up for grabs immediately.
DairyNZ's chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said at least 1000 jobs were up for grabs immediately. Photo credit: Supplied

"For people who're looking for work and like the idea of caring for animals and the environment, there are lots of jobs - and career progression opportunities."

While the Go Dairy career changers campaign, which is supported by Federated Farmers, aimed to create awareness of the job opportunities, there is a big emphasis on ensuring new staff understand what is involved in farm life.

"We want a win-win situation - for new dairy farming employees to be happy and fulfilled in their new lifestyle and jobs, and for farm employers to have great talent working for them."

Interest was anticipated from regions where there were big job losses in tourism and hospitality - and where there is dairying close by.

"An example is the dairy heartland of Waikato, which is also home to the Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves attractions, and the neighbouring Rotorua area, where there have been job losses, both direct and in the local support businesses." 

Other dairy farming regions where there have been significant job losses include the South Island, in particular in Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

Dairy is projected to earn the country $19.2 billion in export revenues in the financial year ending on June 30. 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz