The Uncertain Future of Work

04 Sep 2020 The Uncertain Future of Work image

Across the country, businesses are closing or retrenching their staff as they try and deal with the realities of continued Covid lockdowns and border restrictions.  No one knows how long this uncertainty will continue.  The economic damage being caused by the Covid lockdowns and border restrictions will become clear in the coming months, and it will be very significant.  Planning to go back to pre-Covid days and a return to normal economic conditions is not possible.  Covid uncertainty is here to stay for some time, but we can turn that uncertainty into a certain plan for the future.

Fruit, vegetable and wine harvests and pruning need large number of workers, let’s say 40,000 workers all up.  In pre-Covid years, about half of these workers have come from offshore.  With the borders effectively closed, the flow of offshore workers for the coming season will be severely impeded.  There are indeed ways to work with the Pacific to bring back these workers as is being done already by Australia for their fruit harvests (source).  As a country we need to replicate what the Australians are doing and continue working with, and supporting, our Pacific neighbours.

No matter what border arrangements can be put in place, there is an enormous demand for opportunities for those New Zealanders who have unfortunately lost their jobs due to Covid.  Horticulture is actively working to place New Zealanders in work. During the lockdown earlier this year we placed over 2,000 redeployed New Zealanders in harvest jobs. 

There is a network of horticulture career progression managers throughout New Zealand who work in their local communities to find New Zealanders who want to work in horticulture, to assist into work by identifying what upskilling or training they need, and then to place them with an employer.  To find out more about what is on offer in the industry, go to where there is a horticulture specific job board where people can find work.

At career progression managers also work closely with schools to encourage young people into the industry.  Some schools go that much further and help identify students whose interests and background make them ideal candidates for horticulture industry careers. 

In addition to the career progression managers, there are many programmes that large and small horticulture employers can offer to attract, train and develop careers for New Zealanders.  Often the jobs are tailored to accommodate the needs of the worker such as programmes for parents who work while their children are at school and for people with disabilities.  This can include help with transport, accommodation and meals, split shifts and pastoral care, such as addiction counselling and budgeting advice. 

What horticulture is offering in these uncertain times is a certain job with amazing career opportunities. Any New Zealander who is willing to work and grow their skills as they earn will have a prosperous career in the industry, helping to feed New Zealand healthy food.  Horticulture is needed to earn export revenue for New Zealand and is one of the industries that will pull through Covid and will NOT become a Covid casualty. 

Horticulture has opportunities for New Zealanders to come and work in the harvests which are starting right now with strawberries and asparagus. After that, cherries are harvested in summer and then there is summerfruit, apples, kiwifruit and citrus. Not forgetting the year-round vegetable harvest to name only some of the crops. 

So, go to or to and get your new career in horticulture started.  You can be certain there is work available, and you can be certain that there is a career that as you upskill will be well remunerated.

Mike Chapman, Chief Executive