Provincial Growth Fund supports more full-time orchard jobs

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest to help a Gisborne orchard expand its business and put hard to place unemployed into year-round permanent jobs, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson announced today.

Family owned business, Riverland Fruit Company Limited, will receive a $1.9 million commercial loan to expand its operation, and a grant, over three years, of $1.663 million from the PGF-funded skills and employment programme, Te Ara Mahi. The funding will be used to take on 38 additional hard to place trainees to fill the employment demand created by the expansion of the orchard.  

“The Coalition Government knows that our regions will only reach their potential when their people have the support and opportunities they need to get ahead,” Shane Jones said.

“Riverland has been working with hard to place unemployed young people, with 12 trainees currently on its books and receiving on-the-job skills training and pastoral care. The funding announced today will accelerate that programme, with 38 trainees to be taken on. Riverland aims to continue to employ 36 of the trainees at the end of the course.

“This support will allow Riverland to expand its operations through investments targeted at extending its productive season. Trainees will be involved in these projects, gaining valuable and diverse skills, recognised as essential for on-going employment in the primary sector.”

Willie Jackson says Tairawhiti has a higher than average rate of young people not in employment, education or training, as well as a persistent long-term unemployed population, and it’s good to see a local business willing to address this.

“A pastoral care supervisor can help trainees deal with the number of personal challenges trainees might face. This might include supporting them at court appearances, finding them temporary accommodation after an eviction, supporting them through a drug issue or linking them to mental health services. Trainees are picked up in the morning and dropped home at the end of the day.

“Riverland has shown it is committed to successfully working with harder to place members of the workforce and providing wrap around services.”

The training will includes study at the Eastland Institute of Technology (EIT), with a goal for participants to graduate with level 2 qualifications.

“The funding announced today will make a huge difference in the lives of the trainees and their families and the wider community. These are the kind of projects the PGF looks to invest in,” Willie Jackson said.

Editor’s note

Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Some funding may depend on completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.