by / Comments Off on POSSIBLE WORKER SHORTAGES FOR COMING HARVEST / 13 View / October 1, 2020

THE exceptional 2020 harvest was certainly one silver lining to the covid-19 clouds, but producers now have their attention focused on potential worker shortages in the coming harvest. The industry relies upon the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, in which workers throughout the Pacific are employed for viticulture and wider horticulture work; in Marlborough, around 75% of pruning and development work is carried out by RSE workers. Whilst many workers were in the country for the 2020 harvest, a large number went home and are unable to return. The Ministry of Social Development funded up to 200 local Covid-19 affected jobseekers to retrain for Marlborough winter vineyard work, with Wine Marlborough confirming around 40 workers were employed via the scheme. Rising domestic unemployment may help fill some of the coming shortfall but it is not always easy to get workers in the right regions and the right times and it seems a deficit is inevitable without ready access to RES workers. With a great deal of uncertainty remaining around border and travel restrictions, planning for the 2021 harvest is a complex task with no clear solution on the horizon.