Recently promoted to assistant manager on a Puketapu orchard, 32-year-old Ryan May is finding the apple-growing industry a great choice of career.
"They're screaming out for workers," he said, having recognised the opportunities opening up five years ago when he returned from an extended holiday working overseas.
After leaving school he studied mechanical engineering and welding and prefabrication programmes at EIT, developing skills he still finds useful in the workplace.
He went on to work for an Onekawa-based metal fabrication company for six years before heading off on his travels.
Returning to Hawke's Bay, he knew he didn't want to work in a factory again.
Instead, he gained a foothold in the local apple industry and, joining T&G in December 2013, moved up the career ladder with a mid-July appointment to assistant manager of an orchard block developed by the company on Moteo Pa Rd.
"I came to the industry five years ago with little understanding of apple growing," he admits. "I didn't know about grafting trees or that it took three to five months to grow a crop. Nor did I appreciate how subject crops are to the weather although, of course, Hawke's Bay has a great growing climate."
Joining EIT's Horticulture Trainee Programme, he studied part-time for three years to gain an advanced New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Production (Fruit Production).
"With a bit of discipline and by applying yourself, you can get ahead by taking up the many career opportunities available," he said of Hawke's Bay's burgeoning pipfuit industry.