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Labour: Plan, source and attract

Business Management

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 edition of AFG, available online here.

From setting up accommodation to tapping into Pacific labour schemes, growers share the strategies they are taking to source, attract and retain workers this season.

With another tight-labour harvest season forecast, planning ahead and having a mix of strategies will again be key to securing labour needed to bring in the crop.

Federal government initiatives including streamlining the popular Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) under the new Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme and introducing plans for a new AgVisa – both in response to industry lobbying – increase flexibility and access and should over time expand options.

Quarantine and cost-sharing arrangements implemented state by state has reopened some pathways for Pacific workers. But in the short term, apple and pear growers are again reliant on domestic labour to fill the shortfall historically provided by backpackers. Building on experience from last year, growers from across the country share their insights into what worked, what didn’t and what strategies they will be using this season to pull together the workforce required.

Workplace of choice

In this – and any year – a workplace that makes workers feel valued and comfortable, where they are clear about what is expected of them, what and how they’ll be paid, feel rewarded for effort, supported and safe, will be far better placed to attract and retain workers for a smoother more productive harvest.

Strategies used to improve the worker experience include:

  • Provide accommodation
  • Clear communication, support and encouragement
  • Hourly rates for first week for beginners
  • Prompt and transparent payment
  • Good orchard condition
  • Social events

What’s happening around Australia?

Grower stories from the past season.

Matt Lenne, Vic – Treat workers well and they return

Read more

Darlene & Brad Fankhauser, Vic – Record pick relied on Vanuatu workers

Read more

Russell Delroy, WA – WA industry in ‘much better’ situation

Read more

Fiona Hall, NSW – Students invited back for NSW harvest

Read more

Nathan Baronio, Qld – Higher wages, good conditions fail to help Qld

Read more

Joe Caltabiano, NSW – Accommodation on farm is key for NSW grower

Read more

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