The agricultural equipment sector remains in a positive mood throughout the country says the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA), which represents the sector in manufacturing, retailing and distribution.
TAMA sales statistics for the year to date (September 30) are down around 18 per cent compared with 2019's record-breaking year, however indicators remain positive as New Zealand enters the peak of another growing season.
TAMA president Kyle Baxter said despite sales volumes being down in some equipment ranges, members were confident regarding business trading across dealerships and local equipment manufacturing.
Customers were already discussing their machine requirements for autumn and spring 2021, which was a really encouraging sign, Baxter said.
"Everyone has benefited from a mostly favourable winter around the country. This weather was greatly appreciated by many customers in a year that has seen a never-ending list of challenges."
Baxter said one big challenge still facing TAMA members was the continuation of international border restrictions.
Many TAMA members relied on overseas staff to fulfil a broad range of roles within dealerships, manufacturing and technical support roles," Baxter said.
"With these roles not being able to be filled from overseas during the season, and possibly beyond, TAMA is urging its members to look at other options available."
These options included Covid-19 government funding for businesses who take on new apprentices or retrain unemployed people from other sectors.
The TAMA triennial employment survey, which came out in August, showed that the industry had 318 apprentices but needed 176 more.
The survey also showed that around 25 per cent of the workforce could likely retire in the next 15 years while only 32 per cent of staff are aged under 30.
"We want to attract more under 30s into our industry to help ensure sound succession planning. Given the huge uptake and integration of new technology into our sector, the job opportunities continue to develop as quickly as the technology," Baxter said.
"It is hugely encouraging to hear from members who have had successes with the new apprenticeship funding and I am positive that this success will continue into 2021 and beyond."