As the seasons roll on throughout the regions, we all have noted the change in availability of labour and difficulty in attracting labour especially the right labour and this, unfortunately, effects all industries but most significantly the horticulture industry.

Over the past 12 months the use of Harvest Trail Services in Far North Queensland has doubled with many farmers approaching HTS for assistance as another avenue of support to try to source their workforce.  QITE have been fortunate enough to fill 95% of every vacancy listed through their offices in Far North Queensland.

QITE outline the major reasons for this success:

• Employer flexibility of work hours – parents who are restricted to school hours are a workforce that is readily available.  This has worked for many farmers with crops that have the flexibility to allow this.

• Advertising through social media has been a very successful avenue, as this opens up to a broader market.

• Cross Skilling workers – as prices fluctuate, workers are being utilised in other areas such as farm maintenance, building and construction and cleaning to keep them employed during these times and so they are available again when the market allows and it becomes more financially viable to resume harvest.

• Local Unskilled Labour – understanding that although workers may be unskilled they have lived and worked in the area so have an understanding of the climate especially the  heat and physicality required to perform the job.  Skills can be taught however the ability to work in FNQ is not something that everyone can do. Locals are much more acclimatised to the conditions. QITE’s success has been established by ensuring that workers want to work and sending quality not quantity.

• Understanding the free resources available not only through Harvest Trail Services but also through jobactive, Disability Employment Services, Transition to Work and Parents Next programs who have workers ready to go.

• Work requirements / induction – explaining to workers what they will be doing for example pumpkin picking – what sizes and weight, if there is a conveyor belt etc.  Ensuring there is a full understanding has assisted in reducing the number of workers that do not last the distance.

• Mutual support – employing groups, couples or families has in QITE’s experience shown that those with on the job family or mutual support are more likely to remain for the majority of the time that they are required.

• Job Sharing – QITE have noted many farmers who are currently sharing a workforce which is keeping people in the area longer. • Small Gestures – feedback from all job seekers is that it’s the small things that keep them going back, ie smoko breaks, icypoles some afternoons etc. Knowing that they are appreciated keeps them motivated and makes them work that bit harder.