29 April 2010

Increasing the numbers of Australian working Holiday makers may address rural workers shortage

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A forcast of a rural workforce shortage has prompted calls for the Government to make sweeping reforms to try to get more skilled and unskilled labour moving to regional areas.

Australian Working Holiday Visa

More workers are needed in fruit picking and other jobs in regional areas, jobs that are popular with Australian Working Holiday Visa holders

In a new workforce paper, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) says an extra 10,000 to 20,000 employees will be needed on farms or in the agricultural supply chain each year, and that the recovery from drought may be affected by such a sever workforce shortage.

NFF says that the $7 billion-a-year horticulture industry currently has 22,000 vacancies for fruit-picking positions, which is a popular position for
Australian Working Holiday makers. According to NFF this is costing horticultural farms on average $100,000-a-year each in unpicked rotting fruit alone.

"The global financial crisis and drought have masked a critical workforce deficit across regional Australia," NFF president, David Crombie said.

"Solid rains, and the recovery they promise, threaten to drain the labour pool.

"Farmers can grow the food, but who will pick the fruit, harvest the veggies and shear the sheep?

"Without a labour fix, produce will be left to rot and pivotal economic capacity will go unfulfilled," he said.


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