Major NZ research to identify wine industry workforce gaps

Winery recruitment campaign. Photo: Richard Briggs

The New Zealand wine industry is embarking on a major workforce research project, taking stock of the current roles and skills across the sector to identify workforce gaps and plan for the future needs of the industry.

“This is a collaborative project that will help us ensure that New Zealand continues to have a strong, capable and thriving wine industry made up of healthy people and businesses,” said Marcus Pickens, general manager Wine Marlborough.

“The outcomes of this research will give us a big picture understanding of where we are, and where gaps exist that need filling to ensure our wine industry remains robust into the future.”

A survey will open on 25 September 2023, inviting those involved in the wine industry to share insights into their workforce and required skills.

Members of all facets of the sector, including growers, producers, and suppliers such as vineyard contractors, vineyard managers, wine tank manufacturers, bottling and logistics businesses are being encouraged to take part in the survey to help form a full understanding of industry needs.

The project will be led by Wine Marlborough advocacy manager Nicci Armour, supported by an industry steering group with representatives from wine businesses around the country.

One of these representatives, Rose Family Estate winemaker Nick Entwistle, says a project of this scale hasn’t been done before in the New Zealand wine industry.

“It’s a really important piece of work that will capture who’s in our workforce, what skills they have and whether there are areas we need to look at developing. It will capture information around the future skills employers will need to plan for in their business,” said Entwistle.

“The nationwide industry survey is a key foundation. We’re really working hard to make sure it’s not just another survey that goes out and the data gets lost, we want it to have a lasting impact.”

Conducted with the wine industry in mind, it is hoped that the survey will also help stakeholders identify gaps and strengthen their workforce.

“Our peripheral industries play a huge role in the economy of Marlborough and the advancement of the wine industry … if they can see that the industry is crying out for specific services, they can hopefully work to create their own niche and build their workforce within those areas,” said Entwistle.

“It’s going to give us some really beneficial information that we can take to central government and say, ‘this is where the focus is for our workforce going forward’.”

The collaborative project is being co-funded by the Sector Workforce Engagement Programme, part of Kānoa – Regional Economic Development, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), and the Marlborough Research Centre (MRC). The funding comes on top of additional resourcing from Wine Marlborough to manage and lead the project.

Research, survey, and analysis work will be undertaken by an independent workforce specialist, Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL).

Outcomes will be particularly important for Marlborough, where the wine industry accounts for 20% of the regional GDP and one in five jobs. It will be closely linked with work supported by the Marlborough Regional Skills Leadership Group (RSLG) through the Marlborough Regional Workforce Plan.

“It’s fantastic to be able to conduct this work not only for the benefit of the Marlborough wine industry, but for all of New Zealand’s wine regions,” said Pickens.

“It will provide a robust evidence base and support a strategic and cohesive approach to workforce planning.”

Once completed, the final report and outputs will be available to all businesses that participate in the survey, with support for how they can integrate the data and skills information into their workforce planning, taking a ‘what does this mean for my business’ approach.

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