Building workforce and career paths for Marlborough’s wine industry

A workforce plan is being developed for Marlborough's wine industry.

Richard Briggs/Supplied

A workforce plan is being developed for Marlborough’s wine industry.

This article first appeared in Winepress magazine and is republished with permission.

Some workers in Marlborough’s wine industry are unsure of their career pathway, according to recent consultations.

That’s just one of the insights gleaned in the early stages of a six-month push to develop a wine industry workforce development plan, says Wine Marlborough advocacy manager Nicci Armor.

The initiative has been seeded by the Government’s Regional Skills Leadership Group, which last month published Te Mahere Ahumahi ā-Rohe o Te Tauihu o Te Waka-a-Māui, the Marlborough Regional Workforce Plan.

Marlborough’s industry needs are specific, Nicci says, and while the industry is production-driven, it also needs to be people-driven.

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“For our industry to thrive, people need to thrive. For Marlborough to thrive, our industry, and our people need to thrive.”

Nicci has held several meetings with different groups of Marlborough wine industry participants as part of early information gathering.

Initial responses from some who have been working less than 10 years in the industry have been particularly interesting, she says.

“There is no clear sense of a promotion path in this group.”

There is a lack of understanding of how people can get where they want to go in the industry, she says.

“They’re not sure what to do next, who to talk to…. There’s a real need to support our young people in their own career development.”

Many of those who took part in initial consultations had unexpected routes into the wine industry.

While some definitely have legacy family paths into the industry, many came into the industry not knowing anything about wine and taking a gamble that this was the right path for them.

Nicci says there are three key things driving the Marlborough plan:

⦁ The work needs to be industry-led:

⦁ Stakeholders need to be aligned in a clear direction; and

⦁ Both short-term and long-term needs have to be included.

From now until the end of the year, a 10-person steering group is to meet and draft a workforce plan, towards both short-term and long-term outcomes.

Alongside that will be working groups, set up to progress particular aspects of the plan or specific projects.

It’s clear there needs to be a long-term project, but first a firm foundation needs to be set so that the industry can build a sustainable solution, says Nicci.

The Government’s Marlborough Regional Workforce Plan sets out regional aspirations, priorities and actions for current and future workforce and skills development in the region.

It is focused on creating a more resilient, sustainable economy and workforce, and an enabled Māori economy.

The plan highlights local labor supply and demand trends and focuses on what Marlborough can do as a community to achieve a highly skilled and coordinated regional labor market over the longer term.

Alongside wine, the plan looked at aquaculture, aviation, aged residential care, and building and construction.

Nicci says the Marlborough wine industry workforce plan is following on from that broad work, and focuses on Marlborough’s specific needs.

“We’re different from every other wine region in the country. We have specific seasonal and long-term needs, alongside workforce factors that are unique to Marlborough.”

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