Putting boots on farms in the Darling Downs region will be the key goal of a renewed employment initiative delivered by Growcom, through the Diverse Queensland Workforce program.

Growcom Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Stephen Barnard said it’s a no-brainer for the organisation to train and then place migrants and international students in agribusiness labour roles.

“Growcom serves fruit, vegetable and nut growers and is best placed to make the connections between horticulture businesses, migrants, refugees and Australians looking to get their hands on a role,” Mr Barnard said.

“This is a multi-pronged initiative that benefits people living in farming communities and supports our farmers who continue to deal with a severe workforce crisis.

“Toowoomba is a humanitarian resettlement area and there are many migrants with rural and agricultural backgrounds there, as well as international students looking for work.

“There will be 80 employment pathways made through the Diverse Queensland Workforce program and that’s going to enrich the lives of skilled migrants and build diversity for the agribusiness labour workforce.

“Matching eighty skilled migrants to available jobs alone won’t solve the workforce crisis but it provides agribusinesses with some leverage to get products into stores.”

Since 2018 Growcom has worked with migrants, refugees and Australians interested working on-farm and seen a 300% increase in employed graduates through the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network training programs.

“We started with a small number of 16 participants back in 2018, with nine employed on-farm and that’s grown to 28 farm labourers today,” Mr Barnard said.

“That’s why we will work with the local community to upskill migrants and refugees and also give international students an opportunity to apply their skills on farms too.

“Migrants and refugees know what working hard on the land means and they bring a slew of experiences to farms, so it makes perfect sense to link them with long-term opportunities.

“Opening doors like this benefits families who are re-settling and finding their feet in a new country and this is part of the dynamism of Diverse Queensland Workforce program.

“We will partner with The Mulberry Project – a non-profit organisation that works with migrants and refugees to gain employment – to administer training, work experience and placements for the participants.”

Growcom has been building pathways for workers into agriculture for several years now, as a key deliverer of the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network local employment initiatives and the Skilling Queenslanders for Work, Community Work Skills program.

The $200,000 in funding is made through the Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Small Business and Training.