Fee changes and government measures to save lives through stricter driver licence requirements are an increasing barrier to employment, says Horticulture New Zealand national seasonal labour co-ordinator and Hawke's Bay grower Jerf van Beek.

"It is a barrier for people in horticulture all around the country - I hear this story often," he said.

"There are more young people unable to go to outer areas.

"We hear stories through Work and Income, which are stakeholders we work with. They have people who are 25 with two children and are still on their restricted [licence] because they can't afford to get their full licence."


He said employers reported it had been a growing issue for 15 years.

"Here in Hawke's Bay, definitely, a lot of the larger employers put special vans that pick up and drop off their staff."

He said RSE workers were routinely provided transport but logistically it was much easier, because groups shared accommodation and had a designated driver.

Labour's Tukituki spokeswoman Anna Lorck blames her electorate opponent on the problem, Tukituki MP and Associate Minister of Transport Craig Foss.

She said the region was suffering both economically and socially from his "inaction".

"It is putting local employers and business under real pressure. Many have taken on the added responsibility and cost of providing transport for their staff," she said.

"A driver's licence is a way into work and to help Hawke's Bay to grow but instead Mr Foss is holding the region back and people out of jobs."

Mr Foss said a licence was also important to access healthcare but offering a licence "to anyone and everyone" was "madness" - safety came first.

He said community, local and government agencies were working hard to help young people successfully sit both their restricted and full licence tests.

Last week the New Zealand Transport Agency announced the allocation of $120,000 per year to help fund community programmes assisting people with all stages of obtaining a driver's licence and students will be given the opportunity to earn NCEA credits for obtaining their driver licence "and further improvements are on the way".

"Changes will be aimed at improving the system's efficiency and accessibility while maintaining our core objective - ensuring, as much as practically possible, the safety of all of us living and working in the Bay.

"Well done to those employers taking the initiative and organising transport for employees who need it."