In February, a group of stakeholders from the agricultural industry, small business and local employment service providers met together to discuss the opportunities and obstacles in placing jobseekers into seasonal agricultural work opportunities.
The event, a Local Jobs Program initiative, was developed in response to feedback from employers and from local employment service providers, who work with jobseekers in the national government’s Jobactive and Transition to Work programs.
“What I noticed was that despite the high demand for agricultural workers, providers were concerned about placing their clients in short term work opportunities and seeing them bounce back on to their jobseeker program when the current work assignment finished”, said Emma. “From this feedback, I wondered if it would be possible to work together to map out a year of agricultural work in the Wheatbelt, to help our employment service providers promote these roles with more confidence”.
On the day, the participants attended a farm training facility tour (hosted by 2 Work in Oz) and a collaborative workshop held with participants attending in person (at York Community Resource Centre) and online.
At the workshop, they discussed strategies to make agricultural work more visible within the region, and to address some of the practical barriers jobseekers face when applying. The attendees, being from several regions within the Wheatbelt, then developed a seasonal agricultural work calendar to combine their knowledge of work across agricultural sectors and locations.
“Considering my previous perception of agricultural work being seasonal and inconsistent, it was great to see the variety and volume of work available”, commented one Jobactive provider. “I feel much more confident now to work with our clients to place them not only in the current season’s roles, but to ensure they have the training and information to gain their next role in three to six months’ time”.
Ley Webster, from 2 Work in Oz, a farm skills trainer and registered recruiter, welcomed the opportunity to expand her pool of jobseekers. “With my previous recruitment pool of backpackers unavailable due to COVID-19, I’d been trying a variety of strategies to introduce farm work opportunities to local workers”, said Ley. “When I heard about the Local Jobs Program, I contacted Emma to enquire about opportunities to reach registered jobseekers and school leavers more effectively. This workshop has been a great opportunity to do that, and I look forward to keeping in touch with this new network moving forward”
Following the workshop, the stakeholders have confirmed plans to continue this information-sharing and collaboration on a quarterly basis, to keep abreast of upcoming agricultural work and training opportunities. They have also started planning their own events to promote these work opportunities directly to their own jobseeker clients.
“This is a great for Western Australian farmers and job seekers alike, a real win-win, and is exactly why we’ve funded a national network of Employment Facilitators through our Local Jobs Program,” commented Stuart Robert, (Federal Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business).
“Our Employment Facilitators, like Emma Everett in the Great Southern Wheatbelt Employment Region , are key to delivering our Local Jobs Program on the ground.”
The Local Jobs Program, a national government initiative, supports tailored approaches to accelerate reskilling, upskilling and employment in 51 regions across Australia. Each region includes a Local Jobs and Skills Taskforce, a Local Jobs Plan, projects funded through a Local Recovery Fund, and a local Employment Facilitator. For more information, visit https://www.dese.gov.au/local-jobs-program