As you are all aware, labour shortage will have a major impact on the kiwifruit industry in the current and future seasons. At SCH, we are doing everything in our power to ensure our clients get the manpower and skill level when needed.
We officially started the Seasonal Labour Unit (SLU) in September 2020. We have Scott Barr-Smith (previous Commercial Manager) in the driver’s seat, and Michaela Horcinova (previous People and Culture Partner) as the co-pilot.
The teams do a variety of indoor and outdoor work across our multiple sites. Each team has a team supervisor that is a permanent SCH employee. Currently we have 66 team members in the unit which is made up of a variety of nationalities, each bring different skills and experiences to the SCH family.
Most of our current team members are backpackers and RSEs (Recognised Seasonal Employees). Our plan going forward is to significantly increase the number of New Zealanders whilst we are in such an uncertain time.
So, what is SCH doing to attract and retain people? We try to offer a good amount of hours by being well organised, we provide training which helps people do their best and allows them to make good money at the same time, we organise activities outside work hours (beach volleyball, day trips to hot pools and snow, etc.), we help with accommodation and visa processes when possible and we create an environment where people have fun at work.
We are currently working alongside Bethlehem and Tauranga Boys College, and we also have a program with Massey University where we get young people to join us during their summer break. They gain valuable work experience that could lead to a full-time permanent position with SCH in the future.
We see a great opportunity to become the industry leader in this space, next year we plan to expand our operations to 200 seasonal team members, with a world class training system in place leading to more permanent employment opportunities in the future. So far, the feedback has been very positive, a lot of people say that we are different to what they have experienced in the past and that we genuinely care.