Hundreds of jobs in Hawke's Bay horticulture need to be filled as the industry heaves with productivity.
Pipfruit New Zealand business development manager Gary Jones confirmed there are worker shortages across the region; an issue his organisation is working hard to address.
"We think we're 200 fulltime positions short. These jobs can be tractor drivers, orchard supervisors and operation managers," he said.
As New Zealand's main apple growing region Hawke's Bay accounts for 65 per cent of the national crop, Mr Jones said.
"In 2012 New Zealand produced around $341 million worth of exports, and this year we've already done $720 million. When you consider that Hawke's Bay accounts for 65 per cent of that, we've over doubled the money coming into Hawke's Bay," he said.
Mr Jones said this has created a huge amount of "downstream jobs".
One way Pipfruit New Zealand is addressing this job surplus is by working with Hawke's Bay schools, the Eastern Institute of Technology and Massey University to "staircase" young people into industry training.
Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Association president Lesley Wilson said the horticulture industry is also struggling to find workers with the skills necessary for employment.
"Certainly finding skilled staff and finding staff who have the aptitude to work with machinery is difficult," she said.
However, Ms Wilson reported 100 apprentices in training, compared to just 10 apprentices that were training one decade ago.
She said she was "thrilled" with the number of young people responding to the call for more workers, with many of them specifically seeking "outdoor" employment.
Joshua Rowe is a young local who is currently involved in a 'earn as you learn' programme run through the Primary Industry Training Organisation.
Growing up in orchards, Mr Rowe said horticulture was his first career choice and the expanding industry motivated him to start studying.
Mr Rowe is in his third and final year of a National Certificate in Fruit Production Advanced Level 4.
The qualification will help Mr Rowe work towards his "long run" goal of being a sector manager just like his father Mark Rowe, who is the T & G sector manager of Twyford.
Mr Rowe said he would "definitely" encourage other young people to pursue careers in horticulture.
"It's slowly getting more and more popular. Slowly people's mindsets are changing. It's not just a job it's a career pathway," he said.
Mr Jones estimated the industry will be worth $1 billion by 2020, with its global expansion meaning many jobs will involve overseas travel.
"Jobs in the New Zealand apple industry in Hawke's Bay are more global than many other jobs. A young person in the industry literally has the world at their feet," Mr Jones said.
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