The latest jobs figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirm the unemployment rate had risen to 6.9 percent in September.

Results of a survey released yesterday by Anglicare Australia found across the nation, there are eight entry-level jobseekers for every appropriate position. Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers has said there aren’t enough jobs at their skill level to meet demand in any part of the country.  

This however is certainly not the experience of the horticulture industry.

“Ernst and Young have only just concluded an analysis of our casual and unskilled labour situation, and found a shortage of workers between now and mid next year ranging from 36 to 59 per cent, with a peak next March,” said Richard Shannon, Manager of Policy and Advocacy at Growcom. 

“At it’s worst, this shortage will see between 20,000 and 26,000 roles go unfilled. Which if it eventuates, would be tragic and a great loss for farmers, but also for those Australians looking for an opportunity and a fresh start.

“So we are urging unemployed Australians to go west, to seek work in the regions.

“Not only is this work rewarding, offering an opportunity to venture out of the metropolitan morass, but it could very well be the start of a long term career.

“And the opportunities aren’t that far way. Many fruit, vegetable and nut growing areas are within an hour of major metropolitan centres.

“Meanwhile, look around the rest of the economy. While other sectors have suffered, fresh produce remains a strong and vibrant industry. This is on the back of many years of continued growth.    

“Our advice is to make your next move a strategic one, while the Federal Government is supporting you.”

In the 2020-21 Budget released last week the Federal Government announced a $6,000 grant to assist workers with the costs of relocating to regional Australia, available from 1 November. 

Access to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY will also be fast tracked for young people who choose to work on farm.

“We want unemployed Australians to know they have an option, and it’s a great one. Their situation is not diabolical. The work is here if they want it,” said Mr Shannon.

“But it won’t land it their lap. They’ll need a sense of adventure and aspiration. And that’s just the sort of people we need in our industry long term.”