Nursery offers apprenticeships

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RICHARD DAVISON and JACK CONROY

Operators of a West Otago nursery are pleased with the response to two recently advertised apprenticeships.

Tapanui business Blue Mountain Nurseries made the positions after seeing an upsurge in online trade following the recent Covid-19 lockdown.

Nursery co›owner Rebecca Hughes, who runs the 88-year-old plant wholesale and retail firm with husband Chris, said the response had been so positive they had decided to extend the deadline for applications to tomorrow.

“It’s been amazing seeing young people taking the initiative to come to the nursery to drop off their CVs and to say ‘hello’,” Mrs Hughes said.

“We’ve had three or four who’ve done that.”

Overall about 25 applications had been collected, with “a good mix” of ages and geographical origins.

“It’s been older people as well, which has been good.”

Mr Hughes said it was important for those businesses that could, to help boost the country’s economic recovery.

‘‘I think it’s important for people to know it’s not all bad news out there in the job market.

‘‘We want to do our bit for enthusiastic workers looking for employment right now, and an apprenticeship is a great way to learn your trade and earn while you’re studying.’’

Although the firm of 15 had a long tradition of taking on apprentices, this had lapsed during recent years due to the ready availability of suitably qualified overseas staff.

Recent changes to international travel meant that was no longer viable, he said.

‘‘To be honest, there just haven’t been the right people locally to offer apprenticeships, but we’re very hopeful the current situation will expand the pool of potential New Zealand horticulture trainees.’’

He said candidates should have an eye for detail, enjoy getting their hands dirty and, ideally, already be a ‘‘plantaholic’’.

‘‘All our staff will be involved in some way with training.

‘‘We’re all ages and from across the world, so we’re a pretty diverse bunch.’’

Mr Hughes said businesses, where possible, should be trying to look past present challenges and continue planning for the long term.

‘‘This is an investment not only in the future of our business, but also of our young people.’’

Applications close tomorrow.