A training scheme for horticultural workers in Hawke's Bay has led to permanent jobs for some people who were relying on seasonal work and the dole.
The scheme, which began last year, is a partnership between grower John Bostock, the Eastern Institute of Technology, Work & Income and community groups.
Ten students from the first course graduated on Wednesday at Te Aranga Marae near Hastings.
Mr Bostock heads a group of companies that grow, pack and market squash, onions, grain, organic apples and ice cream.
The aim of the training scheme is to help combat a labour shortage in the horticulture industry and get seasonal workers people into permanent work.
Mr Bostock said the whole point is to provide realistic on-the-job training and employment at the end of it.
He has been encouraging other growers to get in behind the programme and as a result more growers are getting on board this winter and providing support.
"If we all get together and each do a little bit we can make a big difference,'' he said. ''Unemployment creates social challenges in Hawke's Bay, so if we are all paddling in the same direction it will help."
The next 20-week course starts in March.