28 Jun 2006

New Zealand horticulturalists want more foreign workers brought in for longer periods

7:17 pm on 28 June 2006

The fast growing New Zealand horticulture industry sees Pacific workers as one possible solution to their quest to improve skills and productivity in the sector.

The National Seasonal Labour Co-ordinator for Horticulture New Zealand, Peter MacKay, is one of the key speakers at a conference on the Pacific Labour Market tomorrow and Friday in Wellington.

Domestic labour shortages in recent years have put the industry at risk and Mr Mackay says the gap is often filled by visitors who work in orchards or vineyards for only a few weeks before moving on.

He says the industry wants workers who can stay longer so skills can be improved.

Mr MacKay says they are keen for the Government's present Approved In Principle scheme to be extended to allow this.

"The AIP scheme appeals to a number of employers because that enables them to go and seek their own employees and have them working in their orchards or vineyards for a specific time, so the benefits for an employer in doing that are that they can put more training into them and bring their skill levels up."