OPINION: Smarter ways to secure farm workers

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Farmers are worried about securing seasonal workers.
Camera IconFarmers are worried about securing seasonal workers. Credit: David Gray/Getty Images

Farming is a tough game and all sorts of factors play into that.

Weather, input costs and prices received for products, machinery and cost of repairs and staff.

With the closure of international, and State borders there are concerns around the ability of farmers to source staff for seasonal jobs such as harvesting and fruit picking.

It’s easy to sit back and say, “well x number of people are out of work, so make them do it”.

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It’s not as simple as that. There are valid reasons why some people are unable to fill these positions, including border restrictions.

Let’s put aside those who aren’t available and focus on those who may be willing to fill the shortage of agricultural workers.

Are we advertising in the right places for these positions? You can place ads in farming magazines, but chances are someone who doesn’t live in a rural area, is not going to see them.

Likewise, you can put a request for staff on your local shire’s noticeboard, which travellers passing through, and locals, will see but will it spread any further?

Social media will often give you the most widespread coverage but it’s important to target the type of social media your ideal employee is likely to use.

There are a lot of farmers on Twitter so you may find someone there who is looking for work but if you are chasing a younger generation of workers there may be better options.

I think it’s vitally important to be honest about your requirements when looking for staff.

Be clear about how long the job may be available for, whether they have to be skilled, or if training is available.

Advise them what accommodation is available and if they are able to bring their family, or if it is only for single people.

Is there any possibility of the job continuing after the required work is complete or is it definitely only for a short-time frame?

It may be more time and cost-effective for you to outsource the hiring of staff, or it may be worth placing the position with Centrelink to reach all those who are registered as unemployed.

Whatever way you source staff you will have wins and losses.

Take care of the great staff and don’t waste time on those not interested in work — of any kind.

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