The Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme benefited the Pacific Islands by more than $50 million last year while at the same time, helping New Zealand’s horticulture industry to keep up with production.
‘It’s because of the scheme’s success and vital role in our industry that we would like to see the scheme expand and more Pacific people be able to take up opportunities in New Zealand,’ says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman who attended the RSE Conference in Vanuatu last week (17-19 June).
‘It’s hard to understand without seeing it first-hand the huge difference money earned through the scheme makes. It is used in the Pacific to build cyclone resistant housing, pay for education, and set up businesses such as coconut pressing and furniture construction as well as more common, tourist accommodation and tour businesses.
‘In addition, while in our country, RSE workers get the opportunity to learn new skills such as house building, outboard motor repair and welding, which they put to good use back home.
‘For the horticulture industry in New Zealand, the scheme helps growers find enough people to harvest their fruit and vegetables, particularly at the peak of the season. Without the scheme, the labour shortages our industry face would be a lot worse.’
The latest Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) survey of employers in the RSE scheme found that 96% agreed that the benefits of participating in the scheme outweighed the costs. Employers also continued to rate RSE workers highly in terms of dependability, productively and enthusiasm.
‘RSE employers in the horticulture industry take their responsibilities seriously. Most go beyond the minimum requirements to ensure that the workers are well looked after and supported in New Zealand, and learn skills that they can take home,’ says Mike.