Rural contractors facing desperate shortages of skilled staff can now tap into the training of 200 new industry trainees who will use an app to record and document their work.

The Rural Contractors NZ Board last week agreed to help fund the HanzonJobs programme which is also seeking MPI support to train and mentor mostly young people working with contractors around the country.

RCNZ CEO Andrew Olsen says there’s a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators in the industry and HanzonJobs provides a very real solution.

HanzonJobs is owned by former rural contractor and labour recruiter Richard Houston. He developed it after Covid struck and labour shortages intensified. It uses an app web-based platform to allow the trainees to easily log all the activities they’ve been involved in during a working day.


RCNZ Board member Daryl Thompson trialled the HanzonJobs system with four trainees last year and says it brings a range of benefits.

“This information is critical for developing and monitoring my own workforce, we can demonstrate to the Government that as an industry we are supporting training and it can help show why we may still need to import some staff again next season.”

He says another bonus from the app is that it provides a record of learning which insurers seek when it comes to machinery damage claims.

“We as rural contractors have to get right behind this lifeline.”

Andrew Olsen says getting skilled operators from overseas this season has proved a nightmare for many contractors and there was no assurance this would change.

“Most contractors will tell you that the best training is on-the-job. The HanzonJobs app is designed to increase employee retention by turning otherwise un-recorded on-the-job experience into a detailed, documented and verified record of industry skills.”

Richard Houston says employers can see what a potential recruit has actually learned to do, rather than relying on say-so.

“The trainees also like it.  A survey from last season showed more than 80% of them enjoyed the season – and planned to return this season.”

The app allows trainees to log on to record their daily activities. Over the course of a season, the trainee will build a detailed record of their learning and experience across various jobs involving differing terrain, conditions and machinery types. While most using HanzonJobs last season were under 30, it’s open to anyone learning to operate agricultural machinery

Richard Houston says it’s planned to align these records with associated unit standards, thus furthering the ability of the platform to contribute towards qualifications.

Andrew Olsen says RCNZ is looking to start the HanzonJobs programme in mid- October, with induction getting underway the week starting October 4.

“This reflects several factors; our season in well underway, it’s started with us well short of skilled staff and needing to recruit people and the season is the only time you can do the tasks required and log them as a record of your range of skills.”

Andrew Olsen says Rural Contractors NZ are now looking to recruit 200 trainees and their mentors from Northland to Southland to support HanzonJobs initiative.