Growers’ call to Aussies for help in picking season
THE ongoing closure of Australian borders has placed immense pressure on Granite Belt growers, who are facing a shortage of workers this picking season.
The season, which isn’t expected to start until early November, relies heavily on backpackers and overseas visitors to make up the workforce.
Granite Belt Growers Association president Angus Ferrier urged horticulturalists to consider the amount of workers they will need, sooner rather than later.
“I think any potential shortage of seasonal workers on the Granite Belt is yet to fully reveal itself because we haven’t started to recruit in full numbers yet,” Mr Ferrier said.
“We’d encourage growers to try and plan ahead more than they normally would with regards to advertising and souring workers.”
An inquiry launched into the Working Holiday Maker program by the Australian Committee of Migration found a greater need for Australians to fill the void.
The inquiry recommended the Australian Government develop a ‘Have a Gap Year’ campaign to attract young Australians to the region.
Mr Ferrier said the concept was already being adopted on the Granite Belt, with the Growers Association launching a campaign to attract domestic workers.
“It’s a misconception to say that our industry only employs foreign workers; we’d welcome more involvement from an Australian workforce,” he said.
“It’s a highly technical industry and an essential industry above all else.
“In future years and generations, there’s going to be a need for homegrown specialists and professionals to work in our industry.”
The push for Australian workers was supported by Stanthorpe Apple Shed employee Ugo Tomasel.
“There’s no language barriers or cultural problems; certainly local people are always the best option, so long as they’re willing to fulfil the requirements,” Mr Tomasel said.
“We’re happy to do that if people are available and happy to do it.”
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