Hort job choices ‘only going to grow’

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Chelsea Donnelly is expecting to have a busy year, promoting Central Otago orchards and highlighting why the horticulture sector is worthy of exploration by high school pupils as a career.

As a Go Horticulture (GoHort) careers progression manager she organises and runs initiatives to introduce school pupils to the industry and what it offers.

She is working with the Central Otago District Council to organise one or more southern employment industry days to showcase careers in agriculture, horticulture and construction, as well as horticulture specific days in combination with other agencies and institutions.

The first one is tentatively planned for March.

‘‘We want to develop a pipeline of students into local industry,’’ Ms Donnelly said.

‘‘A lot of older people in the industry are looking at retirement and we need young and innovative people coming through.’’

Three, four-day taster courses — which are free — are planned through Otago Polytechnic later this year, and several careers events will take place at the region’s high schools.

The taster courses will highlight the whole range of career options available, from production through to science, business and technology.

Ms Donnelly will also be taking part in a Dunedin job shop, an industry conference at Lincoln University, and is also organising pupils’ and careers advisers’ day trips to orchards to help them understand how the sector works.

‘‘I am really pleased with the support from orchards and the community.’’

She will also be going to schools to talk toyear 12 and 13 pupils about work placements with local orchards.

‘‘The vocational choices available for careers in the horticulture industry in Central Otago are only going to grow.

‘‘The Central Otago harvest has not gone according to plan because of the weather and the orchards are extremely grateful for the people who turned up to work.’’

However, while they had a good uptake by university students, school pupils and backpackers for seasonal work, they still had labour retention issues.

‘‘We have a great industry here, with many positive things happening,’’ Ms Donnelly said.