15 Dec 2021

Student Job Search helps fill vacancies in agriculture, fishing and forestry

9:52 am on 15 December 2021

Student Job Search is coming to the rescue of farmers and growers crying out for skilled workers.

A Hamilton woman says her ten year search for work has uncovered employers bad attitudes to disabled job hunters.

File image. Photo: 123rf

There's been a 76 percent increase in the number of jobs it's offering in agriculture, fishing and forestry.

At the same time, student earnings from these jobs have more than doubled, totalling just under $7 million in the last financial year.

Student Job Search places around 27,000 students into work every year.

More than 1000 students picked up jobs in farming, horticulture, fishing and forestry in the last financial year, compared to just over 600 the year before.

Student Job Search vacancies in the primary industries has also jumped - from just over 2000 to more than 5000 in the same timeframe.

Chief executive Suzanne Boyd said it was great students are providing a little relief to the hard hit sector.

"The primary sector is one that is suffering considerably by the skills shortage and has been quite badly impacted by Covid and we're just so happy we've been able to change the lives of so many students and graduates [by helping them into work]," she said.

Janey is an environmental science student from the University of Canterbury, who is in her second summer cherry picking in Cromwell.

"I was working here last year and this year I would definitely say there are more Kiwis and more students working. It's definitely a bit different to being a student and sitting on your laptop all day," she said.

"This [job] is where I get most of my income to fund my year ... it helps with my rent, car and other living costs when I'm studying."

Janey said she loved the work as it was outdoors and offered better hours than hospitality, another popular source of income for students.

Horticulture New Zealand has seen an increase in young people going into the sector too, placing 50 into internships, with another 5000 New Zealanders getting jobs this year.

Emma Boase, a manager at the organisation, said employers in the sector were really getting behind young people.

They are offering work to suit their needs, as well as social clubs and bonuses.

"About 18 percent of employers are offering flexible hours. So offering students weekend experience or after school experience or just school holiday-type experiences too," she said.

"A lot of employers also offer wrap around support so 50 percent will offer accommodation and 37 percent can offer transport."

Boase said Horticulture NZ was offering internships, online taster courses and resources on its 'GoHort' website to support students into work as well.

Alongside the perks, Student Job Search data showed total annual earnings for students in the sector have risen from $1.2m to nearly $7m in the space of three years.

And Suzanne Boyd said the bigger pay cheques were set to continue.

"Lower pay rates are not what we're seeing - in fact, we're seeing it go the other way. What that's telling us is not quite double the number of students are placed [in jobs] but they are receiving way more than double the earnings. Students are being paid better and they are indeed going to all sectors, including the primary industries."