Big interest in new milk plant jobs

Oceania Dairy Glenavy factory progress. Photo supplied.
Oceania Dairy Glenavy factory progress. Photo supplied.

Oceania Dairy's new $214 million milk-processing plant in Glenavy is still six months away from taking its first supply of milk, but the company confirmed yesterday that hundreds of people were already queueing up to fill job vacancies.

Construction of the plant, which will process 300 million litres of milk and make 47,000 tonnes of milk powder each year, is expected to be finished before August, and Oceania chief executive Aidan Johnstone said more than 300 people, mostly from North Otago and South Canterbury, had applied for positions at the factory.

More than 20 positions had already been filled, and another 40 positions were expected to be filled in the next five months, Mr Johnstone said.

''We have filled 27 positions to date and have been really pleased with the level of interest in our roles.

''Applicants are entering our recruitment process from a wide range of employment backgrounds and bringing a great diversity of skills to the table. We are very focused on the quality of our workforce, so the depth of the applicant pool is really encouraging.''

When operating at full capacity, the factory would employ about 70 permanent staff, he said.

Oceania Dairy would also contract with up to 40 local farmers for the 2014-15 supply season to deliver 130 million litres of milk to the plant in its first year of operation.

The plant is being built for China-based company Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, which gained approval from the Overseas Investment Office to buy Oceania Dairy last year.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said the rate of staff recruitment at the plant was ''great news'', despite recent ''setbacks'' with the closure of several high-profile employers.

''It is very exciting, because we have a skilled workforce in South Canterbury and North Otago, and actually a bit further south. To see that there is work available for those people is just a huge boost in confidence to the whole region.''

With a population growth rate in Waitaki of 4.6% and 9.4% in the Mackenzie district, there would also be other employment opportunities in the dairy, tourism, manufacturing and agricultural sectors in the future, Mrs Dean said.

''There is a very wide base of growth. I think this is just one example of the opportunities that will present themselves.''

Last week two Waimateemployers, Havoc Pork and Waimate Knitwear, announced they were ceasing operations in the district.

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