Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Aquaculture industry gets funding boost to grow workforce

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The aquaculture industry will receive a cash injection to ease workforce woes and grow the industry.
The aquaculture industry says a funding boost will help showcase the opportunities that exist for careers in the farming of mussels, oysters and salmon. Photo: Stock
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Aquaculture New Zealand has received $210,000 from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s sector workforce engagement programme. 

The funds will support Aquaculture NZ’s action plan to build a national workforce to support the sustainable growth of aquaculture in NZ, which aims to develop a skilled, qualified and diverse workforce. 

This comes as the industry grapples with a significant shortfall of workers, with 500 vacancies to fill, as well as government plans to grow the industry’s annual sales from around $600 million to $3 billion by 2035. 

Aquaculture NZ chief executive Gary Hooper said the funding boost will help them get priority actions underway quickly that will make a tangible difference for the industry. 

“Aquaculture employs over 3000 Kiwis in regional communities around New Zealand, we predict we will need double that number of workers by 2035, ” he said. 

“Right now, we have a significant shortfall of at least 500 vacancies across the industry.”

The funding was announced at the industry’s annual conference in Nelson earlier this week, and Hooper says it will be essential in attracting talent and building a future-proof industry. 

“We want to showcase the opportunities that exist for careers in the farming of mussels, oysters and salmon. We need creative, clever, and practical people onboard to help us face the challenges of the future,” he said. 

The Nelson Tasman Regional Skills Leadership Group (RSLG) has supported the national aquaculture workforce strategy, and co-chair Justin Carter said aquaculture really mattered to many regional economies. 

“The Government’s Aquaculture Strategy has a goal of $3 billion in annual sales by 2035 following a sustainable growth pathway and using innovation to add value,” Carter said.

To realise this, aquaculture businesses need a skilled local workforce. RSLGs partnering on this mahi makes sense for the good of communities and the country.”

This shortage of skilled workers is not only affecting the aquaculture industry, but Kiwis nationwide are also being encouraged to join the dairy sector, for example, as one-third of dairy farms seek to fill vacancies during the busy seasons.

Through a new GoDairy campaign, DairyNZ is looking to help recruit young Kiwis into dairy farm roles. Most young people enter the dairy sector in a farm assistant role and the campaign connects job seekers to the latest farm assistant vacancies across NZ.

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