Tim Whetstone, the member of Chaffey, recently announced a pilot scheme that will see seasonal workers in the Riverland employed by a group training organisation to gain vital skills and offer them year-round work in an effort to solve the local labour crisis. Local GTO Murraylands Employment and Training SA will hire 18 job seekers as part of the Skilling SA initiative, with 12 of them starting Certificate II in Horticulture traineeships with the Riverland Horticulture Council. With registered training organisation MADEC Australia, all participants will complete the Ready, Set, Go Employability Skills JobTrainer course to enhance their job preparedness skills and capabilities. Mr Whetstone stated that the “innovative solution” will bring full-time work to regional South Australians while simultaneously solving labour shortages in the state.
“The trainees will rotate through different employers for four months, learning various skills that are required to finish their traineeship,” he stated. “This will provide them with a well-rounded education and ensure that they have the skills and abilities to be valuable assets to any farm company.” Vanessa Leigh, deputy chief executive of Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland, said local firms would also have access to a pool of labour they could dip into during peak times and then release when work ceased, allowing them to become available to other enterprises. “For individuals, traditional seasonal labour will be changed into full-time employment, increasing the appeal of working in this area,” she said.
As they struggled to locate semi-skilled and management-skilled staff, Lyrup fruit grower Sam Lloyd said the federal ag visa and local traineeship programme were both wonderful initiatives. “It’s difficult to find someone to do such work locally, and even backpackers might be hit or miss,” he explained. “That’s where the latest Pacific Island Scheme really shined, making harvest time a lot easier.” “The traineeship programme would undoubtedly enhance the number of skilled employees available, but it would take time, whereas the Ag Visa would provide specialised labour instantly.”