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Tackling labour shortages in horticulture.

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DAFF07/052PM - 3 May 2007

Tackling labour shortages in horticulture

The Australian Government will provide $350,000 to combat labour shortages in the horticulture industry, and to develop Australia’s first ever strategic horticulture industry workforce plan.

In announcing the funding to Growcom, Queensland’s peak horticulture industry organisation, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said the industry had identified labour availability and skills shortages as major challenges to the industry’s long-term future.

“Productivity, profitability and the international competitiveness of the Australian horticulture sector, is heavily reliant on labour availability,” Mr McGauran said.

“This project will be the first time a strategic assessment of the skills needed by the industry will be undertaken, followed up by on-the-ground trials of attracting and retaining workers in the sector.

“Three pilot projects aimed at recruiting and maintaining workers in regional Queensland will be trialled, with the potential of being rolled out on a national basis.

“The funding will also be used to examine how the industry can make best use of the Government’s improved Working Holiday Maker Visa programme, which now provides greater incentives for backpackers to undertake seasonal work on farms.

“The plan represents a significant opportunity for horticulture businesses to identify practical approaches to tackle workforce issues.

“I commend the industry for adopting such a practical approach to tackling this issue. The pilot projects will provide real examples and results of what works and what doesn’t, allowing the industry to refine its strategy, before applying it more broadly across the country,” Mr McGauran said.

The funding will be provided under the Government’s Industry Partnerships Programme’s Action Partnerships initiative, which aims to help industry sectors undertake practical projects of lasting benefit to industry.

Further media inquiries:

Minister McGauran's office: Ben Houston 02 6277 7520