Funding boosts action on aquaculture workforce plan

Published: 11 October, 2022

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Aquaculture New Zealand’s action plan to build a national workforce to support the sustainable growth of aquaculture in Aotearoa New Zealand has received a $210,000 funding boost from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP).

Ten people stand in a clinical lab environment, wearing lab coats, hats, earmuffs, and covers over their shoes.

Nelson's MacLab harvests green lipped mussels and carefully extracts bioactives for use in health products. Its factory hosted a group tour in support of the funding boost for the workforce actions.

SWEP is joining forces with Aquaculture New Zealand, Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs), Government agencies and the aquaculture industry to get the first stage of the action plan for developing a skilled, qualified, and diverse workforce underway.

The plan takes a collaborative cross-Government approach to growing the range of people and skills the aquaculture industry will need to achieve its growth strategy by addressing education and skills gaps, understanding perceptions, mapping career pathways and future-proofing the workforce.

“This funding support will help us get priority actions underway quickly that will make a difference,” said Aquaculture New Zealand’s Chief Executive Gary Hooper.

“Aquaculture employs over 3,000 Kiwis in regional communities around New Zealand and we predict we will need double that number of workers by 2035. Right now, we have a significant shortfall with at least 500 vacancies across the industry. It is crucial we build our workforce in order to grow our industry.

“We want to showcase the opportunities that exist for careers in the farming of mussels, oysters and salmon. We need creative, clever, and practical people onboard to help us face the challenges of the future,” said Mr Hooper. “It’s an exciting time to be in aquaculture."

The Nelson Tasman RSLG has supported development of the national aquaculture workforce strategy. Co-chair Justin Carter said aquaculture really mattered to many regional economies and RSLGs in different parts of the country would be working with the industry to implement the strategy.

“The Government’s Aquaculture Strategy has a goal of $3 billion in annual sales by 2035 following a sustainable growth pathway and using innovation to add value. To realise this, aquaculture businesses need a skilled local workforce. RSLGs partnering on this mahi makes sense for the good of communities and the country,” he said.