With Covid-19 effectively cancelling the annual meeting of the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA), this year’s event was conducted by teleconferencing.
Sales statistics for the year to date (September 30) are down by around 18%, compared with 2019‘s record-breaking year. However, indicators remain positive as New Zealand enters the peak of another growing season.
TAMA president Kyle Baxter says despite sales volumes being down in some equipment ranges, members are confident. He says customers are already discussing their machine requirements for autumn and spring 2021, which was a really encouraging sign.
“Everyone has benefited from a mostly favourable winter around the country. This weather was greatly appreciated by many customers in a year that has seen a never-ending list of challenges.”
Baxter says one big challenge still facing TAMA members is the continuation of international border restrictions.
“Many TAMA members rely on overseas staff to fulfil a broad range of roles within dealerships, manufacturing and technical support roles,” he says. “With these roles not being able to be filled from overseas during the season, and possibly beyond, TAMA is urging its members to look at other options available.”
Baxter says these options include COVID-19 government funding for businesses that take on new apprentices or retrain unemployed people from other sectors.
A recent TAMA triennial employment survey, released in August, showed the industry currently had 318 apprentices, but needs 176 more. The survey also showed that around 25% of the workforce is likely retire in the next 15 years, while only 32% of staff are aged under 30.
“We want to attract more under 30s into our industry to help ensure sound succession planning,” Baxter says.
“Given the huge uptake and integration of new technology into our sector, the job opportunities continue to develop as quickly as the technology. It’s hugely encouraging to hear from members who have had successes with the new apprenticeship funding, and I am positive that this success will continue into 2021 and beyond.”