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Horticulture sector welcomes visa

The horticulture sector has welcomed changes to temporary work visas that simplfiy the immigration system and recognise that overseas workers play a significant role in industries such as horticulture.

Changes to the employer-assisted temporary work visa system will introduce a new employer-led visa framework that will drive the application process. Other changes include: negotiating and introducing sector agreements ensuring there is more planning for future workforce needs, reinstating the ability for lower-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand, replacing existing skills bands with a simple remuneration threshold aligned to the median wage, and for higher paid jobs, replacing the current set of skills shortage lists for cities and open access for regions.

Kaiaponi Farms general manager Scott Wilson said the changes could be helpful for Gisborne growers.

“Our challenge is that there is rapid growth going on in the horticulture sector. That’s across a range of jobs and although we’ve been able to fill all the positions to-date, we can see challenges on the horizon, in being able to achieve that.

“There’s training programmes that have either been put in place or are going to be put in place and those will continue to upskill the local workforce. With the amount of growth that is going on there are still likely to be challenges where we will need assistance, particularly around the seasonal aspect of our work.”