PGF boost for field services ‘big leap’

COME JOIN ME: Four Seasons managing director Elliot Callender expects a lot of company growth through a new PGF-funded training scheme. Picture by Paul Rickard

New government funding could create about 80 new jobs here over the next two years, turning a small Gisborne company into a “beacon of employment” in the process.

Regional Economic Development Parliamentary Under Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau said the Provincial Growth Fund’s Te Ara Mahi funding stream would provide $1.6m to two projects to train new employees in Gisborne and the East Coast.

“This PGF funding gives Tairawhiti people access to opportunities and meaningful work through the support of locally-led initiatives. We know this is essential for our regions to thrive and grow,” Mr Tabuteau said.

The funding includes $731,311.40 for a two-year civic infrastructure workforce development programme for 24 new employees (targeting potential workers from Tolaga Bay up to Hicks Bay) and 15 existing employees, run by Parata Contracting.

In addition, a two-year horticulture training programme run by Four Seasons in Gisborne, would receive $940,000 to train 56 full-time employees — 31 in year one, and another 19 the year after.

“These projects exemplify the purpose of Te Ara Mahi — to give regions the capability to support local people with skills, training and employment,” Mr Tabuteau said.

“It also addresses the labour shortage in the horticulture and civic infrastructure sectors in Tairawhiti.

“These projects are an example of passionate community leaders getting involved to make a difference for their community.

“These projects will make a significant difference to the futures of people and businesses in Tairawhiti. I’m proud we are backing locally-led programmes which tackle challenges in this region head on, and support the priorities carved out by people in this community.”

Four Seasons managing director Elliot Callender said the funding would support efforts to both retain and recruit staff.

“It’s going to be huge for us. We’re a small company, so this is going to boost our direction and I’m really looking forward to it. It has a real feel good factor to it and I’m really excited about it.

“Our core business historically is the harvesting and packing of squash and citrus for export markets. That’s seasonal, mostly from December to the end of March, and we’ve been struggling to fill the employment positions for those seasonal months. Seasonal labour requirements are getting really challenging.”

The company had now created an additional department to provide field services.

“The idea is to retain our staff in a permanent position, so we can help other growers with orchard maintenance and other field services. That’s where the funding comes into it, developing Four Seasons Services.

“It will give stability of employment for our staff members. The funding will allow us to train, providing NZQA training, through EIT.”

It would also help with licensing costs and build administration abilities by employing programme and pastoral care managers.

“What we are trying to do, is really become a beacon of employment, where employees want to stay here and others want to work here. We will achieve that through this funding, giving employees access to a huge amount of pastoral care. We will develop an individual training pathway for each employee, with the idea over the two years to have 50 additional employees in full-time employment.”

That represented a “big leap” for the company, which had about seven full-time employees at present.

“However, during the squash season, we have to get those numbers up, which is hugely challenging. So, with the retention of full-time employment for up to 50 people, they will have structure to their employment and we will also have security of labour for our core businesses.”

New government funding could create about 80 new jobs here over the next two years, turning a small Gisborne company into a “beacon of employment” in the process.

Regional Economic Development Parliamentary Under Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau said the Provincial Growth Fund’s Te Ara Mahi funding stream would provide $1.6m to two projects to train new employees in Gisborne and the East Coast.

“This PGF funding gives Tairawhiti people access to opportunities and meaningful work through the support of locally-led initiatives. We know this is essential for our regions to thrive and grow,” Mr Tabuteau said.

The funding includes $731,311.40 for a two-year civic infrastructure workforce development programme for 24 new employees (targeting potential workers from Tolaga Bay up to Hicks Bay) and 15 existing employees, run by Parata Contracting.

In addition, a two-year horticulture training programme run by Four Seasons in Gisborne, would receive $940,000 to train 56 full-time employees — 31 in year one, and another 19 the year after.

“These projects exemplify the purpose of Te Ara Mahi — to give regions the capability to support local people with skills, training and employment,” Mr Tabuteau said.

“It also addresses the labour shortage in the horticulture and civic infrastructure sectors in Tairawhiti.

“These projects are an example of passionate community leaders getting involved to make a difference for their community.

“These projects will make a significant difference to the futures of people and businesses in Tairawhiti. I’m proud we are backing locally-led programmes which tackle challenges in this region head on, and support the priorities carved out by people in this community.”

Four Seasons managing director Elliot Callender said the funding would support efforts to both retain and recruit staff.

“It’s going to be huge for us. We’re a small company, so this is going to boost our direction and I’m really looking forward to it. It has a real feel good factor to it and I’m really excited about it.

“Our core business historically is the harvesting and packing of squash and citrus for export markets. That’s seasonal, mostly from December to the end of March, and we’ve been struggling to fill the employment positions for those seasonal months. Seasonal labour requirements are getting really challenging.”

The company had now created an additional department to provide field services.

“The idea is to retain our staff in a permanent position, so we can help other growers with orchard maintenance and other field services. That’s where the funding comes into it, developing Four Seasons Services.

“It will give stability of employment for our staff members. The funding will allow us to train, providing NZQA training, through EIT.”

It would also help with licensing costs and build administration abilities by employing programme and pastoral care managers.

“What we are trying to do, is really become a beacon of employment, where employees want to stay here and others want to work here. We will achieve that through this funding, giving employees access to a huge amount of pastoral care. We will develop an individual training pathway for each employee, with the idea over the two years to have 50 additional employees in full-time employment.”

That represented a “big leap” for the company, which had about seven full-time employees at present.

“However, during the squash season, we have to get those numbers up, which is hugely challenging. So, with the retention of full-time employment for up to 50 people, they will have structure to their employment and we will also have security of labour for our core businesses.”

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