New Zealand producers grappling with a labour shortage have won some reprieve, thanks to an extension of the country’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme announced by the federal government today (23 November).
The current cap on RSE workers will be increased by 1,000, from 9,500 to 10,500 for the 2016/17 season.
New Zealand immigration minister Michael Woodhouse said the move is aimed at allowing the country’s horticulture and viticulture export sectors to continue to prosper on the world stage.
“The industry has forecast an additional 2,500 workers will be needed for the upcoming season,” Woodhouse said. “The increase of 1,000 RSE workers shows the Government is committed to enabling the industry to continue to grow and maximise export returns, while ensuring jobs aren’t being taken from New Zealanders.”
The announcement was welcomed by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) chief executive Nikki Johnson, who said the extra RSE workers would support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth.
“This is great news both for the industry, which has been struggling to find enough workers to keep pace with growing volumes, and the people from the Pacific who can support their communities through working in New Zealand,” Johnson said.
“The 10,500 people now secured to work across the horticulture industry over our busiest harvest period next year complement our Kiwi workforce. The kiwifruit industry remains committed to employing New Zealanders as our primary workforce and RSE workers compliment this in periods of labour shortage.”