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NFF call to break down employment barriers

27 August 2008

TODAY the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) issued its Pastoral Partnerships Project Discussion Paper, aimed at breaking down the barriers for the long-term unemployed, indigenous Australians, disabled people and women to enable them to take up jobs and careers in farming.

“We’re seeking input from all individuals and groups with an in-depth understanding of the employment issues facing these groups,” NFF President David Crombie said. “We’re not experts in these specific areas, but we want to encourage all those who can work in agriculture to do so.

“Under this new initiative, we’re looking for constructive advice and insights we can apply to agriculture’s experience – pairing ideal career opportunities with the specific needs of those under-represented groups in the workforce, based on their needs and aspirations – to develop solutions we can take to Government.

“One of the keys to the NFF’s record of policy success is our focus on innovative and forward-looking solutions. We believe there are many opportunities in our sector... not just for jobs, but for jobs with career potential.

“Holmes Sackett’s FarmStaff 2008 survey reveals 73% of people in agricultural jobs cite career opportunities as the motivation for their current positions, and almost a quarter (23%) cite the vast career range and options available to them.

“Over and above the horticultural labour shortage for entry-level employees, agriculture is also facing a skills crisis – some 80,000 semi-skilled and skilled positions will be available as farms move out of drought conditions.

“The Government’s trial of our Pacific Island seasonal worker scheme is very much welcomed, but only one part of the overall jobs jigsaw puzzle. The 22,000 vacant jobs in horticulture cannot be met just through Pacific Island labour. On the other hand, the Australian workforce can’t resolve these shortages alone either.

“We are told some 500,000 willing and able Australians are currently unemployed... we’d be only too happy to give them a start, but this will take time and broad input to accomplish. They need long-term career opportunities, training and support.

“As with the Pacific Islands scheme, farmers are keen to work with new and existing employees to develop skills and provide opportunities for training – both on-the-job and formal qualifications – as a career path in agriculture. Similarly, there is an important pastoral care element common to both initiatives.

“We want to investigate the extent to which agricultural careers can meet the specific needs of these target groups, along with the legislative, regulatory and policy barriers to their participation within the sector.”

The NFF’s project calls for cooperation between interest groups, Government and industry – in particular, representative and professional organisations are invited participate.

All farmers are invited to provide responses to the Pastoral Partnerships Project Discussion Paper, which is available from this website at: Workplace Relations.

Submissions close Friday 21 November 2008.

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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