10 Dec 2021

Cheap accommodation, social sport used to entice workers for orchard jobs

1:03 pm on 10 December 2021

Efforts to attract workers to pick and pack fruit this summer are heating up - with more employers offering incentives to attract workers.

Woman hand picking  juicy cherry in summer.

Photo: 123RF

On the PickNZ website where orchards and packhouses advertise jobs, 42 percent are offering accommodation and 30 percent are offering bonuses.

Just under 20 percent are offering transport, social events and flexible working hours.

One company advertising on the site is Clyde Orchards.

Its manager Kris Robb said offering such incentives has paid off as they have 150 seasonal staff for the picking season.

"The university students make up a big percentage of the numbers we had and they are coming for an experience. I mean, we had six guys here last year from one group and it was probably the worst cherry season we've had in years so they didn't go away making a whole heap of money, but they've come back with 14 of their friends this year.

"I think it's just the whole experience that goes with it of the communal living, a good culture, heaps of stuff to do, affordable accommodation, and then industry and government incentives as well."

Robb said Clyde Orchards upgraded its on-site accommodation for this season, workers can live in communal accommodation for $75 a week or camp for $30 and if they stay the whole season they will get half that cost back.

"There's been a change of demographics of staff. For a long time we've been reliant on backpackers who are in self contained vans so they didn't need much whereas the people coming now want a higher grade of accommodation."

"We've also put more of an emphasis on social activities, we have a cricket, touch and basketball team," he said.

"There's also a bit to do around here. We have the lakes for swimming and boating and the hills for walking and mountain biking so we let everyone know about those as well."

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