Projects pave the way into horticulture

Fruition Horticulture say the opportunity to enter the horticulture industry has never been easier. Photo: Fruition Horticulture.

The horticulture industry continues to experience strong growth, so it’s important it has clear succession pathways in place.

This unprecedented growth has resulted in a demand for a workforce to meet the needs of horticultural enterprises in the Bay of Plenty and across New Zealand.

The total workforce needed within horticulture is predicted to grow with a portion of that workforce requiring specific skillsets, which has been identified as a significant concern for legislators. According to the Ministry for Primary Industries, it’s anticipated that skilled horticultural workers need to represent 62 per cent of the workforce by 2025.

Attracting New Zealanders to careers in horticulture has become key to maintaining the industry’s growth and prosperity.

Since this statistic was made available in mid-2020, Horticulture New Zealand has been in constant dialogue with the government to work towards possible solutions.

In 2020, MPI commissioned a report into financial and business mechanisms that can help people to gain ownership of horticulture businesses or build equity through horticultural careers.

Numerous horticultural projects across New Zealand are seeing exciting and innovative ventures taking shape.

Plenty of projects

In the Waikato, Ngāti Hauā have recognised horticulture as a sustainable opportunity and have invested in a large project mainstreaming indoor blueberry fruit production for its people. This has created a proof-of-concept and narrative that will attract Ngāti Hauā landowners, with a combined land holding of >1600ha distributed across 52 Māori Trust organisations to invest and prosper in horticulture.

In the Hawkes Bay, Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa is converting local land into horticultural production, the utilising of local rangatahi will result in skilled, youthful horticulturalist that can shape further projects for its whenua and cultivate prosperity for its tangata whenua.

In the Bay of Plenty, the Katikati Innovative Horticulture Project is a pioneering, innovative and unique approach that will showcase the horticulture industry and focus on growing a skilled horticultural work force.

This project will create a centre of horticultural educational excellence catering for school aged students, the community and young people not in education, employment, or training (NEETs).

Katikati Community Centre youth employment coach, Melody Lamb, has indicated that in the Katikati and Waihi Beach wards, there are an estimated 250 young people aged 16-24 years not in education, training, or employment and this number is increasing.

“There are many barriers that rangatahi face in their transition from school into employment or further education, such as lack of confidence and skills, poor public transport, and/or a feeling of disconnect from the community that can leave rangatahi feeling unsupported and lost.”

The Katikati Innovative Horticulture Project will put education, skills development and training providers offering pathways into horticulture into one central hub. Based at Katikati College, the hub is in its early stages of design with classes looking to kick off in 2022/2023.

Creating pathways

Fruition Horticulture recognises these opportunities and have created an education pathway that allows people to explore and gain qualifications in the horticultural space.

Funding from government including the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF; also known as free trades training) will support learners to undertake vocational education and training without fees. The opportunity to enter the horticulture industry has never been easier.


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