Future-focused training key to filling labour shortages in horticulture

New Zealand growers are exploring new online training options in an effort to help seasonal workers understand ongoing career pathways in the horticulture industry, which continues to experience a shortage of workers.

Hayden Taylor, manager of Roseburn Orchard in Central Otago, said engaging and effective training is crucial to building a sustainable labour force.

“If we focus on attracting new workers and training them well, we’ll get younger people coming in, buying in, and staying for 30 or 40 years in the industry,” he said.

Taylor began managing the 32-hectare apple orchard, which is part of CAJ Apples NZ, in May, but he has been responsible for inducting and training new staff for several months. He is keen to use all of the tools and technologies he has available to him to help new workers understand the career opportunities that exist in the industry.

“I’m keen to explore different styles of training. I want people to come onto the orchard and see that there are opportunities there if they buy in to the work and try to excel,” he said.

Most recently, Taylor has been working through the ten micro-credentials launched by New Zealand Apples and Pears, GoHort, and eCampus NZ earlier this year. The free, bite-sized online courses introduce learners to the career opportunities available in horticulture and cover a range of topics, from health and safety to leading a team in an orchard or packhouse.

“We see these courses as being the future of how we engage with Kiwis starting their pathway into our industry as well as being a resource for anyone curious and wanting to learn more about what goes on in the world of fruit and veg,” said Horticulture NZ Capability Manager, Emma Boase, when the courses were launched in April of this year.

Keen to incorporate them into his training, Hayden has completed all ten of the courses. He’s particularly interested in using the health and safety course content to induct new staff in an engaging way.

“I’m trying to bring in different styles of training. My style of training and teaching revolves around getting people to forget that working on the orchard is a job and realise that it can be a passion,” Taylor said.

“I think there’s a huge potential for micro-credentials in the changed landscape after COVID-19. It gives potential for those who have lost jobs to quickly upskill in new areas of employment and makes it easy for managers to train staff in specific areas,” Taylor said.

The eCampus NZ learning platform is being closed on 29 February 2024, as part of the completion of the amalgamation into Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga. Therefore, access to courseware for ākonga (learners) will be available for three months post course completion or 29 February 2024, whichever happens first. If you have any questions, please contact eCampus NZ : [email protected] or call 0800 328 269.