A new two-year project to ease labour and skills shortages affecting the Western Australian agrifood sector has been announced.
Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia (CCIWA), would work together on the Agrifood Labour Initiative.
The campaign will try to overcome the shortage by increasing awareness of careers in agriculture, including livestock, horticulture, dairy, grains and food manufacturing.
“Experience shows that businesses in these sectors rely heavily on a transient workforce,” Baston said.
“WA’s agriculture and food sector has the opportunity to harness growth in demand from export markets. Better access to skilled and semi-skilled labour will be critical in taking advantage of these opportunities.
“The Agrifood Labour Initiative will co-ordinate actions to improve access to suitable labour through workforce development, training and migration strategies.”
2014 Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) Western Australian Rural Woman of the Year, Jackie Jarvis, will lead the initiative as the labour and skills consultant.
Jackie Jarvis told ABC Rural that WA producers need to think outside the square and make working in agriculture more attractive, particularly to young people in metropolitan regions.
“It's about working with the different agri-food alliance members, so all the major industry groups across WA agriculture are represented. It's about sharing ideas and finding real solutions,” she said.
“For some industries, it might be about school-based traineeships, so that we get kids trying jobs before they commit to a careers and we can get farms trying trainees for one or two days a week while they're at school.
“For other industries, it might be about skilled migration.
“There's a whole range of people out there. It's about tapping them on the shoulder and telling them about the opportunities in agriculture.”