Pick the Bay is Back

The highly successful Pick the Bay employment expo is returning to Hastings.

The drop-in session for job seekers wanting information on horticulture and viticulture jobs in Hawke’s Bay attracted more than 500 people through the doors last November.

Now, with the picking season about to get underway, the sector urgently needs more local heroes for picking, packing and processing the region’s world renowned produce.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said there was an amazing response from the community at the first Pick the Bay event.

“We were absolutely blown away with the tremendous number of people who supported the first employment expo.  It really showed the high level of support that is out there for our growers, who are facing unprecedented times due to COVID-19.

“More than 8,000 local people are permanently employed in Hawke’s Bay in and around the horticulture and viticulture sectors, from pack-houses to the port.  However, these jobs are at risk if the fruit is not picked from February onwards.

“Our horticulture and viticulture industries are extremely valuable to our region, contributing around $1 billion to our economy, so helping with the seasonal labour shortage is a top priority of all us.

30 employers from Hastings, Central Hawke’s Bay and Napier will showcase a variety of full-time career options available in the sector at the Pick the Bay expo.

EIT and other education providers will also be there to provide training advice and there will also be information about pastoral care with He Poutama Rangatahi providers.

Mrs Hazlehurst said that growers needed a reliable team and were keen to offer conditions that would work for everyone.

NZ Apples & Pears capability development manager Erin Simpson said the huge response the industry had from the last Pick the Bay helped to change the perception of what careers were available in the horticulture sector.

“The sector is moving quickly towards new and innovative ways of producing, packing and distributing our produce.

“Being able to show people from different industries, students and those seeking a career change what opportunities exist is a big part of the strategy we have for our future.

“New Zealand Apples & Pears is committed to ensuring our communities, whānau and rangatahi can share in the growth and success of our industry, and events like Pick the Bay help us to share what we are doing and how to be part of it.”

Hawke’s Bay Fruit growers Association president Richard Pentreath said harvest work could be a lot of fun and financially rewarding.

“Physically able people can earn excellent rates of pay and for those less physically able there are a variety of roles both in the orchard and inside the pack house.

“For example, those with an eye for detail enjoy quality control work and those who enjoy working with machinery can drive tractors and forklifts.   There is work on platforms and on the ground – it’s not all hard labour on ladders.

“Being involved in harvest is an excellent way to connect with your local rural community, and for those that want more there are hundreds of permanent roles available across the sector starting from orchard cadet roles right through to senior management roles and everything in between.

“There is literally something for everyone and most companies are offering free training and education thanks to the government support that has been made available.”

Drop into Pick the Bay to find out more about the perfect job for you.

Wednesday 10 February | 12 – 2pm and 4-6pm | Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre