Hawke's Bay's apple industry is working with local schools and top-tier universities to fill more than 700 new permanent jobs across the region over the next seven years.

Following the rise in overseas demand for apples, growers across the country are in the midst of planting one million new trees a year.

The national pipfruit industry organisation, NZ Apples and Pears, says that means an extra 155 new jobs in New Zealand every year to 2025 - not including the need for more seasonal pickers.
Read more: Apple industry players seek legal action to save future

NZ Apples and Pears business manager Gary Jones said two-thirds - just over 100 jobs - would be in Hawke's Bay and conservative estimates predicted that the job demand would continue for the next seven years.

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"We'll be in a shortage now, if you talk to anyone, they'll all say they can take a number on straight away, the key to it will be suitability, reliability and a willingness to learn.

"We're projecting that demand out to 2025 and 2030, with no let up in those numbers. If anything it will increase, given current planting plans."

Jones said the industry was already engaging locally to educate people about the wide range of roles being created.

"The key for us, is the industry has changed significantly over the past few years and the community's understanding of the industry has lagged behind that.

"You look at our businesses now, they are highly corporatised, there's no longer mum and dad orchardists anymore - and the ones that are, running multi-million-dollar businesses, employing permanent staff."

Horticulture jobs, in general, were distributed across a range of roles, like sales, shipping and marketing, he said.

"There's a lot of very diverse jobs across the spectrum, so we need to demonstrate this to our local community that there are really interesting careers in horticulture."

The industry was already working with a Community of Learning in Havelock North with local schools, focused on science, engineering and sustainability within a horticulture context.

"We are working with Massey University, and we hope next year we're hoping to strengthen the horticulture programme at Massey.

"We're working across the board really to get a better understanding of the opportunities but we have to compete with everyone else."

Major Hawke's Bay apple exporter T&G Global says it needs 50 additional permanent roles over the next few years.

"It's good times for the sector, but we have a real labour shortage, and the demographic of our growers is getting older so we urgently need to attract more young people into horticulture," T&G Global pipfruit NZ growing manager Lachlan McKay said.

To help that the company would open its orchard gates today to give a behind-the-scenes view of an orchard operation as the third Orchard Open Day starts at T&G Evenden Orchard in Hastings.

"There's a lot of exciting opportunities in the industry, with apprenticeships and graduate programmes available. As well as operational roles there are technical and research roles, and with the advancements of technology, we will be increasingly looking for skills in the field of robotics. It truly is a growing industry."

Lachlan said the company would have an additional 50 permanent jobs available in the area in the next few years, on top of the additional 2000 workers that come to the area every year during picking season.

On display during today's open day would be the T&G Pipfruit Young Fruit Growers competition featuring T&G's young horticulturists.

"If you'd like to be part of New Zealand's booming apple industry, and learn how they are grown, harvested and sent around the world, this open day is for you."

The open days runs from 9am to 3pm at T&G's Evenden orchard in Hastings.