18 June 2018
Significant growth in the horticulture and viticulture sectors in Central Otago has prompted the need for up-to-date information on crop plantings and associated labour demand.
To capture this information Central Otago District Council has partnered with sector groups to coordinate a labour survey over the next few weeks.
The 2018 Central Otago Labour Market Survey will build on the information obtained from a 2015 survey.
This earlier survey pointed to strong growth in the horticulture sector, particularly for apples and cherries. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the last three years have seen growth in new plantings, with plans for even more. There is also a move towards consolidation of holdings into larger entities, and people and companies moving into the sector from outside the region.
Other earlier findings pointed to a significant shortage of worker accommodation of all types with an additional 600 backpacker beds required by 2018/19. The 2015 report highlighted labour supply as an ongoing and growing fragility in the sector. These issues will all be explored during the survey period.
Central Otago Labour Market Governance Group Chair Stephen Jeffery said national growth in horticultural and viticulture plantings are projected and this could prove problematic for the local labour supply.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan strongly supports the survey.
"Given the continued strong growth in Central Otago it is essential that the Council, business owners and developers have accurate data on which to base their business decisions. I encourage all growers and contractors to participate."
The survey will get underway this month, with a combination of mailed paper questionnaires as well as face-to-face interviews. The survey will be undertaken by Tara Druce and Martin Anderson, who also produced the 2015 labour market survey. The pair recently completed a similar survey for the viticulture sector in Marlborough. The project is being guided by a steering committee led by CODC Economic Development Manager Warwick Hawker.
The survey is being funded jointly by the New Zealand Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, Central Otago Winegrowers Association, Seasonal Solutions Cooperative Ltd and Central Otago District Council.