Hawke's Bay's apple industry needs to fill more than 100 new permanent skilled jobs a year for the next seven years and none of them are as apple pickers.

EIT said it has responded to the industry's call for more professional management skills within its workforce. Working with industry leaders, the school of primary industries has reviewed its offering for 2019 to ensure it will address the future skills needs.

New Zealand Apples and Pears Incorporated has said more than a million new trees are being planted in New Zealand each year — the bulk of them in Hawke's Bay.

The increased planting will require investment in infrastructure along with a skilled workforce to handle everything from production and packing to storage and export.

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So EIT is launching a NZ Diploma in Horticulture Production programme in 2019. It has three strands: fruit production (starting in January), nursery production (starting in February) and post harvest (starting in July).

Geared for existing growers and other industry participants wanting to move into supervisory and leadership roles, the fruit production and post harvest strands are offered part-time around key seasonal crunch points. The bulk of the teaching will fall in the quieter July to November period.

Classes for the fruit production strand are on Wednesdays from 3pm to 6pm at EIT's Hastings Regional Learning Centre. Industry experts will be drawn in for specific topics over the two-year programme.