New Zealand's ex-prisoners employed in horticulture

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-18 21:34:07|Editor: Song Lifang
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WELLINGTON, July 18 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Corrections Minister Louise Upston said on Tuesday that an initiative between Corrections and Horticulture New Zealand is proving beneficial to the department's goal of turning offenders' lives around.

Following the successful first year of a pilot program in Hawke's Bay that was established to help ex-prisoners and community-based offenders find sustainable employment in the horticulture industry, Corrections and Horticulture New Zealand are now looking to expand the initiative into the Bay of Plenty, Upston said in a release.

The agreement supports training packages that help prisoners become work-ready for employers and offer permanent career opportunities in horticulture to prisoners once released.

"This initiative has been a win-win," Upston said, adding that the support and leadership provided by the horticulture sector is "helping change the lives of offenders and providing renewed hope for their families."

The initiative allows prisoners to leave prison with meaningful skills and qualifications, she said, adding that it provides the industry with trained and qualified employees that will help fill continued labor shortages which will in turn benefit the community.

Horticulture is New Zealand's fourth largest export industry with a turnover of 5 billion NZ dollars (3.7 billion U.S. dollars). The industry has set itself a target of achieving an industry value of 10 billion NZ dollars (7.35 billion U.S. dollars) by the year 2020, official statistics show.

To achieve this target, the industry will need to attract a significant number of trained and qualified horticultural staff to fill a recognized shortage in permanent roles across the country.