The following are recommendations and insights from various hui and engagements with the Primary sector:

There is a need to encourage and expand the agricultural, horticultural to meet the fast-developing innovation in the sector, such as below:

  1. The requirement for short leadership training to support those responsible for leading large groups of seasonal workers is evident in the fruit growth sector – this sector has a high proportion of both work visas and working holiday visas as well as RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) workers, making the need for management skills for a culturally-diverse workforce paramount.
  2. Those working in the sector in Auckland were mainly on working holiday visas (139,170 people over 2022) and on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme (27,246 people over 2022) (Accessed Infometrics Regional Skills Outlook 2023) Training that embraces more advanced technology for vegetable farming and fruit growing. Franklin Food Strategy (facilitated by MPI) is one example of development in this area, having strong support from the community, major grower groups and companies, to work towards building a more qualified and sustainable workforce.
  3. In addition to the ongoing need for horticulture and agriculture training in the Franklin (south) and Rodney (north) of our region, the RSLG has become aware of the significance and interest in skills and training requirements of the equine industry – key foci highlighted Waikato and Tāmaki Makaurau, given the resources and facilities that exist in the Karaka region. With a workforce of 14,000 generating $1.6bn annual revenue, and annual demand for 200 new trainers; the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing are embarking on industry transformation to address:
  • pre-employment training
  • ongoing professional development
  • improved literacy and numeracy
  • better working conditions.

Current demand considerations for skills and workforce challenges in Auckland – Primary Sector 

The impacts of recent severe weather events on the vegetable farming and fruit growing sectors in Auckland have exacerbated existing workforce shortages as they work towards rebuild and recovery. Vegetable growers in Pukekohe are reporting crop losses of up to 30%. The Pukekohe horticulture hub contributes $261 million GDP annually and employs more than 1,600 workers, so the flow on labour market impacts will be felt across the region. Hinemoa Quality Producers Ltd (215-hectare potato and onion growing operation) noted they are having to pay staff well above the ‘normal’ pay rate to keep them. This cost, on top of storm damage and increases in the cost of farm supplies, is stretching their ability to remain in operation.

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