Workforce Development

Growcom is pleased to be part of the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) initiative, funded by the Queensland Government.

Our Agriculture Workforce Officers help optimise the supply of appropriately skilled and trained workers to farm businesses. We scope industry workforce development needs; help navigate options for appropriate qualifications and training; and connect employers and employees with job service providers, subsidised training and a range of relevant government programs. Our aim is to help build a workforce that underpins the productivity and profitability of the agriculture sector.

CAREER PATHWAYS IN HORTICULTURE

The operations and contracted services involved in growing fruit and vegetables, harvesting, packing, storing and transporting them to markets at a high standard of quality for the consumer to buy and enjoy provide a wealth of career paths and job opportunities.

Whether you are in administration, marketing, agronomy or management, working in production horticulture can be a very rewarding career. A bonus is that at least some of the time you will be working outdoors, rather than in an office environment. Horticulture producers are now transforming the way they are doing business by embracing modern technology and innovation to enhance competitiveness, making careers in horticulture more exciting than ever.

Work in production horticulture is generally divided into three categories, namely operations, services and business.

Horticulture operations are those jobs that are involved in growing produce. Typical careers include:

  • Farm hand (involved in a wide range of growing and harvesting tasks such as harvesting crops, tractor driving, preparing crops for sale, propagating plants and maintaining irrigation systems)
  • Pre-harvest crop monitor (identifies any pests/diseases and assesses damage)
  • Field manager (manages contracted fields to ensure required quantity and quality is delivered)
  • Pack house manager (oversees pack house operations)
  • Quality controller (inspects the quality of the harvested crop to ensure it complies with regulated industry standards)
  • Agronomist (introduces different techniques and products to improve soil quality and control pests, and develops better farming conditions through improved planting areas)

Horticulture services enable the industry to operate at maximum efficiency and continually improve operations and produce. Typical careers include:

  • Research and development manager (develops, monitors and evaluates research trials to deliver solutions to production horticultural issues)
  • Transport logistics supervisor (coordinates various transportation processes such as load planning and pickup/delivery scheduling)
  • Irrigation extension officer (uses latest irrigation techniques and information to help increase production, use energy and water efficiently to reduce costs and control water run-off from the farm).

Horticulture business involves jobs that support the business side of the operation. Typical careers include:

  • Business administrator (manages clerical tasks and organisational systems)
  • Occupational health and safety officer (plans, develops, implements and promotes occupational health and safety programs)
  • Data management clerk (collects and inputs data regarding shipped produce)
  • Marketing manager (coordinates marketing functions, including planning, pricing and distribution).

Whether your interests are in science, research, design, finance, technology, politics or marketing, there is a job to suit all personality types.

Many people start by working on a farm and develop their career through apprenticeships, combining on-the-job training and practical experience with study through a registered training organisation (RTO). Others go straight from school to full-time vocational training or university course before entering the workforce. The choice is up to you and your capabilities.

To find out which Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) deliver agriculture or production horticulture-related qualifications visit the Australian Government’s myskills website. This easy-to-use website also provides information about average course duration and price, available funding support, the labour market, entry requirements and graduate satisfaction with the training.

The Ag Inspirations Program is an initiative that has been adapted from the Smith Family’s Work Inspirations program for use within the agricultural industry. Aimed at promoting careers in agriculture, it provides high school students with a taste of various jobs within the agricultural industry via a tour of real-life farms and/or agricultural suppliers and training providers. It also provides high school students with an opportunity to learn more about their personal strengths and the area of agriculture that best matches their interests.

Ag Inspirations relies on a collaborative approach between a number of stakeholders including the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network, Agforce Schools to Industry Partnership Program, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Department of Education and Training, agribusinesses and high schools among others.

GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Finding suitable workers when you need them can be difficult if your usual recruitment channels aren’t meeting your needs. The following are some of the employment options available to you.

Jobactive providers

Whether you are looking to employ a permanent, casual or temporary worker, jobactive providers are located nationwide and can help you find the right staff for your business at no cost to you.

Your local jobactive provider will work directly with you to find job-ready candidates that fit your business needs. They provide professional end-to-end recruitment services, including advertising, sourcing, shortlisting and interviewing candidates. They can also advise you on wage subsidies that may be available when you hire eligible young, mature-aged, long-term unemployed or indigenous job seekers, or any training incentives to which you may be entitled.

Download the Employer jobactive app from iTunes or Google Play. Alternatively, you can use the jobactive website to post job vacancies, search and contact job seekers.

Visit: www.jobsearch.gov.au
Call: 13 17 15


Harvest Labour Services

Horticulture growers can get help finding workers at harvest time through the National Harvest Labour Service.

Visit: www.jobsearch.gov.au
Call: 1800 062 332


Community Development Program

The Community Development Programme (CDP) helps businesses find staff in remote regions by providing employer incentive funding. You can use this funding as a wage subsidy or to cover additional training and supervision costs.

Visit: www.employment.gov.au/community-development-programme-cdp
Call: 13 62 68


Disability Employment Services

Disability Employment Services are a national network of organisations funded by the Australian Government that offer a range of free services to help you recruit and retain people with disability, injury or health condition. This includes recruitment advice, help with job design and ongoing support to ensure the person settles into the job and maintains their employment. They can also help you access wage subsidies and a range of other financial incentives to support workplace modifications and assistive technology among other things.

The JobAccess website contains employer success stories, information on job searching, adjusting a workplace, financial assistance and understanding workplace rights and responsibilities, as well as employer success stories, step-by-step guides and checklists on recruitment and more.

Visit: www.jobaccess.gov.au
Call: 1800 464 80


Australian Apprenticeships Program

There are a range of Australian and State Government financial incentives available for eligible employers to hire an apprentice or trainee. As an added incentive payroll tax rebates are also available.

Apprenticeships / traineeships combine time at work with training and are more flexible than ever – they can be full-time, part-time or school-based and training can be delivered either on or off the job, or both. Apprentices / trainees can be school students, a person re-entering the workforce or a mature adult simply wishing to change careers. If you don’t have enough work for an ongoing or full-time position, a Group Training Organisation can organise for you to share an apprentice / trainee with another business. The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network can advise you on incentives and help you manage the administration of apprenticeship arrangements, including the training contract, training plan approvals and completion arrangements.

Visit: www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au
Call: 13 38 73

Visit: desbt.qld.gov.au/training/apprentices
Call: 1300 300 734

Department of Immigration and Border Protection

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website provides useful information for employers about:

  • Sponsoring and employing skilled workers from overseas
  • Labour agreements for recruitment
  • Employing legal workers
  • Checking a person’s visa entitlements
  • Working with migrants and refugees
  • Skilled migration events

Visit: www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Empl


Working Holiday Maker Program

Backpackers with a Working Holiday visa (417) or a Work and Holiday visa (462) are a popular source of labour when local employees cannot be accessed. These visa holders can work for up to six months with any one employer, with a 12-month visa extension available for those who work three months or more in a regional area.

It is essential that you check that the foreign worker is legally allowed to work. The best way to quickly and easily do this is via a VEVO check (Visa Entitlement Verification Online). The service is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As VEVO does not confirm a person’s identity you will need to sight identification documents and make sure these match the VEVO details. Any employer who is found to have employed, referred or contracted a foreign national who does not have permission to work or is in breach of their visa conditions (an illegal worker) could face penalties of up to $3240 to $108 000 per illegal worker.

If you use a contractor or labour supplier to source your workers you should specify that the supply of labour must include only legal workers. Commonwealth workplace laws, including the payment of minimum rates of pay and conditions under awards and agreements, are enforced by the Fair Work Ombudsman. To check the minimum pay and conditions visit: www.fairwork.gov.au/awards-and-agreements.

The following are just some of the many websites where you can post free adverts to access working holiday makers:

Harvest Trail: www.jobsearch.gov.au
Travellers at Work: www.taw.com.au
Workstay: www.workstay.com.au
Gumtree: www.gumtree.com.au

Visa Information Line: 13 18 81
Fair Work Ombudsman Infoline: 13 13 94


Refugees and migrants

Anyone with a Refugee visa (200) is allowed to work and live in Australia as a permanent resident. Most refugees bring with them strengths gained from surviving difficult situations and have a strong desire to work and to build a new life for themselves and their families. There are a number of non-profit organisations that that specialise in assisting employers to link with refugee and migrant jobseekers, such as Multicultural Development Association (MDA).

Visit: mdaltd.org.au/mda-workforce-solutions
Call: 07 3337 5400


Sponsoring a worker on a temporary basis

The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (457) is a useful option when you want to retain an overseas worker beyond their existing one year holiday visa (417 / 462). Under this visa program, employers can sponsor an overseas worker for up to four years if the occupation is deemed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to be in demand and you cannot find an Australian citizen or permanent resident to do the skilled work. The worker can be in or outside Australiawhen lodging their application.

Visit: www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/457-


Sponsoring a worker on a permanent basis

You can sponsor a skilled worker for permanent migration through the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (187) if you have a genuine need to fill a skilled position that is full time and ongoing for at least two years. You would use this visa to retain a 457 visa holder as long as they have worked for you for at least two years before the application is lodged.

Visit: www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/187-
Call: 131 881

Seasonal Worker Programme

The Seasonal Worker Programme offers a returning workforce for agricultural employers who can’t meet their labour needs with local jobseekers. You can either apply to the Australian Government to be an approved employer or you can source workers from a labour hire company who is an approved employer.

Workers can be recruited from the following participating countries: Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Seasonal workers can be employed for up to six months, while seasonal workers from Kiribati, Nauru or Tuvalu who can be employed for up to nine months.

Approved employers are responsible for providing briefings to seasonal workers on arrival and departure; providing seasonal workers a minimum average of 30 hours per week; paying for the full cost of each seasonal workers’ return international airfare and domestic transfer arrangements up front, and recouping any amount over $500 from the seasonal worker’s pay over the course of their employment; organising accommodation and transport to and from work for each seasonal worker (at the seasonal workers’ expense) and providing pastoral care for workers, including opportunities for recreation and religious observance, a 24 hour contact number, and assisting workers to access services in the local community.

Visit: www.employment.gov.au/seasonal-worker-programme
Call: 02 6240 5234


Online search for overseas skilled workers

SkillSelect is an Australian Government online service that can help you to search for potential overseas workers who have registered their interest in working in Australia and have the essential skills needed to fill a particular skill shortage. You will be able to view details of skilled workers and then make contact with them to discuss sponsorship and employment.

Visit: immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/skillselect
Call: 131 881

Wage subsidies are a financial incentive to encourage employers to hire eligible participants in ongoing jobs by contributing to the initial costs of hiring a new employee. Wage subsidies can help to build a business and give employers greater flexibility in their hiring options.

Up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) is available for new employees who are:

  • 15 to 24 years of age,
  • Indigenous Australians, or
  • 50 years of age and over.

Up to $6,500 (GST inclusive) is available for new employees who are:

  • 25 to 29 years of age,
  • parents, or
  • registered with an employment services provider for 12 months or more.

Visit: www.employment.gov.au/wage-subsidies
Call: 13 17 15

Many employers want a good quality worker who is available every season and can potentially take on a supervisory role but are concerned that they don’t have enough work to keep them on in a full time, permanent role and the cost to employ them on this basis.

Conversely, potential employees generally want a permanent role with a regular income rather than a casual role with irregular income. During the off peak season the significantly reduced hours of work and income is insufficient to sustain their household, so while they like the idea of working on a farm it is not a financially viable option.

While it may seem like a unworkable situation there may be a potential solution. Find out how taking on a permanent employee may be easier and more cost effective than you think.

See Factsheets below for more information on taking on a new employee:

  1. Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA) Factsheet
  2. PaTH Factsheet
Contact the QAWN Manager

Karen George
Manager, Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network

0408 135 003
kgeorge@growcom.com.au