Six young people from Hawke's Bay are on a mission to get others like them to join their world leading apple and pear industry.
They are part of a new nation-wide recruitment campaign to raise more awareness about all the new career opportunities for young Kiwis looking for a bright future with rewarding job prospects.
New Zealand Apples & Pears capability development manager Erin Simpson said job attraction is a far bigger challenge than job creation for the industry, as horticulture has, in the past, struggled to gain wider appeal.
"Together, with a growing team of great young people we're determined to change the perception of 'picking bags and ladders' and show the rest of the country that we're leading the world. It's an exciting and dynamic industry to work in, offering a fantastic future," Simpson said.
As part the Growing Great Team, the group are sharing their different work stories to highlight the opportunities being created in one of New Zealand's fastest growing primary industries.
They all have fulltime jobs and come from a variety of backgrounds, diversity, education and work experience.
From an after school job sweeping the packhouse floor to managing an orchard, from a casual labourer to a senior role overseeing a harvesting team, from gaining bachelor's degrees in science, marketing, and international business, to careers in research and development, consultancy and export sales – their real-life experiences highlight the different jobs and pathways into the industry.
An orchard foreman with Mr Apple, Anthony Taueki, who grew up and lives in Maraenui with his young family, said it's awesome to be part of a smarter future.
Starting with a seasonal job, Taueki quickly moved into senior roles and is studying for a Diploma in Horticulture, while climbing the career ladder.
"This is about showing others how they too, can get into our industry which needs more people just like us helping grow and export the best apples and pears for the world."
Commerce graduate Naomi Mannering is working in export sales for Fern Ridge Fresh after starting out in logistics.
"I love interacting with people from all over the world," she said.
A passion for organic horticulture led science graduate Lisa Arnold to her job in orchard operations and compliance with Bostock New Zealand. "I enjoy the diversity and working with different people."
Bostock New Zealand orchard manager Chris Treneman said he strives every day, every year to grow the perfect crop. He got his first taste for the industry sweeping the packhouse floor after school and has never looked back.
AGFIRST consultant Leander Archer said horticulture is an exciting space to work in where every day is different. Having started out as a technician, the science graduate has now moved into consultancy working on a variety of projects.
Research assistant Hannah Lloyd gets to work in both the field and the laboratory helping solve industry challenges. With a Bachelor of Science and Masters in Biological Science, a summer studentship led to fulltime job opportunities in R & D with world leading research organisation Plant & Food Research, based in Havelock North.
The booming success of New Zealand's apple and pear industry is forecast to grow another 400 full time jobs in Hawke's Bay alone by 2020 with a million new trees being planted annually across New Zealand over the next five years.
Simpson said the industry is actively looking for people with skills in health and safety, food safety, people management and teamwork, systems design, production systems, sustainable practices and environmental awareness, logistics and financial management.
"Whether your skills are in horticulture, another industry, or if you have a desire for a career that's growing great, we have a role for you".
"It takes more than fresh air and sunshine to grow the best apples and pears for the world and the prospects for young people wanting to climb the career ladder has never been better," said Simpson.
A focus will also go on education, pitching to school leavers across all education and training options, with new developments planned for next year. Along with promoting their industry at expos and fieldays, a key marketing tool will be connecting with young people through social media.