Opening the gateway to hundreds of new career and education opportunities in New Zealand's booming apple and pear industry is under way with the appointment of a regional career co-ordinator in Hawke's Bay.
Emma Boase has hit the ground running working with New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI) and Massey University to connect horticultural students with local exporters and growers.
She's one of five being appointed in the horticultural sector throughout the country in a $1.1 million Provincial Growth Fund investment, announced recently by Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones.
It aims to get more New Zealanders into the industry and Boase said: "This is an industry with huge potential. Everyone is so positive saying 'yes' to growing great careers and jobs for us young New Zealanders.
"I'm here in Hawke's Bay to show and bring young Kiwis like me to the region where it's all happening, supporting them to discover what's on offer, how they can learn, where they can work and to help them go for it," she said.
"I want to see young people like me seize these incredible opportunities so we can reach their potential and be part of a growing and dynamic horticultural industry now and in the future."
NZAPI capability development manager Erin Simpson said it means for the first time the apple and pear industry has a complete education and career pathway offering an entry point for every level and role.
"The new regional co-ordinators will enable us to better connect into education providers so we can share a far more positive story about horticulture to help us attract more growing young minds to our industry and the great career opportunities opening up," Simpson said.
The programme is the brainchild of the Horticulture Capability Group (HCG), an initiative comprising apple and pear, kiwifruit, avocado, and vegetable sectors and with the Hawke's Bay Fruit Growers Association, Horticulture New Zealand and government working together in all areas of the industry.
The HCG has been identifying and developing ways to meet joint objectives for permanent, better paying skilled jobs for New Zealanders in the different sectors with long term career prospects.
"Our global success is creating hundreds of new and exciting career opportunities, with more than 2300 jobs in the next 10 years in the apple industry alone," Simpson said. "But the greatest challenge has always been getting young people to see us as a great industry offering them a very bright and rewarding future."
There is also the relationship with Massey, and Simpson said: "Having a fully resourced and dedicated team focused on increasing the uptake of industry training and tertiary study including diplomas and the new degree, working across New Zealand's major horticultural regions will make a huge difference for us.
"Over two years our industry has now developed a full education pathway which is relevant and adaptable to every changing demand it takes to be the best country in the world to grow and export apples and pears."
Based in Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Manawatū (through Massey University), Upper South Island and Otago, the team will be responsible for connecting and supporting New Zealanders not only into study and fulltime work but importantly into careers where they can also earn while they learn.