Pacific labour mobility front and centre to address labour demand

By June 4, 2021 No Comments

Industry update: Kit Sainsbury

2021 remains a challenging year for the growing community with state borders opening and closing regularly with each new COVID outbreak across the states. However, a constant remains with the firmly padlocked international border and not predicted to reopen until ‘mid 2022’.

Nationally wider horticulture production is forecast to drop by up to 17% driven by a heavily reduced overseas labour supply. Typically, gaps have been filled by the working holiday makers and international student groups, however these have left in droves and not been able to return. Although domestic worker incentives have been seen throughout the states – a continued encouragement of recruiting Pacific Islands workers remains from the Federal and State Governments to help fill this gap.

The Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) remain accessible options for vegetable growers to source migrant labour. Since the restart of these programmes at the end of August 2020, we have seen all 10 engaged countries re-engage with the scheme.  On the PLS alone we have seen 2714 workers come into Australia to date.

The stability that bringing in workers provides for employers is a consistent message. Knowing that a dedicated, and suitably motivated, group of workers can come in for the crunch period of harvesting has provided significant comfort to those who recruited from this programme. This is being picked up in WA with a steady and growing engagement of workers over the past year.

With no major changes expected in reverting to pre-COVID labour markets for at least another year, there is value in considering this accessible overseas labour market as a part of your longer-term business planning.

Interested in getting seasonal workers onto your farm?

Contact Kit Sainsbury

M: 0477 477 044
M: kit.sainsbury@vegetableswa.com.au