Now’s the perfect time to start a career in the horticulture sector

17 July 2018

New Zealand’s horticulture industry is booming and growing at such a fast rate it needs more capable and qualified people to keep up with the demand for its fresh and healthy produce.

The horticulture and viticulture industries along with Primary ITO, the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) have collaborated to launch an exciting new apprenticeship which aims to grow the horticultural industry’s workforce and support the recruitment of 100 future leaders.

The sector groups supporting the apprenticeship include: NZ Avocado, Vegetables NZ, Processed Vegetables NZ, Horticulture New Zealand, Apples & Pears NZ and NZ Kiwifruit Growers represented by the Horticulture Capability Group, Citrus NZ; Potatoes NZ; Tomatoes NZ; Onions New Zealand; Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association; Canterbury Horticultural Society and NZ Winegrowers.

“This is an encouraging first step in this sector-led, government-supported approach that improves employers’ access to reliable, appropriately skilled staff at the right time and place” says Nathan Grennell from MBIE.

To help attract more people to the industry, the Minister of Agriculture Hon Damien O’Connor, will launch the new Apprenticeship in Horticulture Production at the Horticulture Conference in Christchurch on July 24, 2018.

“Everything that can be done to encourage greater industry participation in training, while increasing the number of people entering horticulture as a career is fully supported,” says Jen Scoular representative of the Horticulture Capability Group.

Primary ITO is working with the horticulture and viticulture industries to attract new, motivated and career-oriented people to the sector – helping them cultivate the skills they need for individual and business success. It will ensure Horticulture Production apprentices enter working environments which support their training and professional development, and that employers also get the support they need. “There has been significant work in establishing the current and future capability requirements of the sector and ensuring the development of the new qualification pathway has excellent resources to meet these expectations,” says Dr Linda Sissons, Primary ITO CEO.

Upskilling apprentices through on-the-job training, which aligns to industry requirements and regional needs, helps them benefit from practical skills and learnings they can apply on the job. This three-year apprenticeship includes strands in fruit production, indoor and outdoor vegetable production and post-harvest production. Plus, it’s been designed to replicate a typical season so can be started anytime.

“Benefits to employers include the recruitment and retention of existing staff, rewarding and securing talent, building flexibility and capability in teams, increasing productivity, helping with succession planning, and minimising health and safety risks.” says Mike Chapman, CEO of Horticulture New Zealand.

“Making ongoing investments in people helps the industry meet its needs, both now and in the future,” says Dr Linda Sissons. “Recent research shows apprentices ability to ‘earn and learn’ means they are financially better off than graduates during their careers. Plus, apprentices and their employers may also be eligible to have their training fees paid under the governments fees-free scheme.”

For more information on the Horticulture Production Apprenticeship visit