A scheme providing returning seasonal workforces for a number of Australian industries including horticulture was officially launched in Sydney yesterday [2 August] by the secretary for school education and workplace relations Jacinta Collin.
Such a workforce, with workers able to remain in the country between 14 weeks and six months, will be “only available to Australian employers who have a demonstrated unmet demand for labour and a commitment to Australian jobseekers”, Collins says.
The AUS$21.7m (£14.7m) programme, currently on a three-year initial trial period, began on 1 July, and with aquaculture, cane, cotton and accommodation industries also involved, it “will provide a shot in the arm to industries facing seasonal labour shortages”.
There are 10,450 places available for horticulture employers over the next four years and 1,550 in the other sectors over the next three.
The scheme will see companies able to apply to become an ‘Approved Employer’ who can either manage and administer the workers or employ them directly. These companies are then responsible for assisting with accommodation, transport and health insurance.
Countries eligible to participate include East Timor, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, with Collins saying the programme “will also make a significant contribution to the economic development of Pacific Island countries and East Timor”.
Seasonal workers will receive training in English literacy, numeracy, first aid and basic computer skills.