Labour template to address skills shortage

Aug 18, 2015

Under the Dairy Industry Template Labour Agreement, finalised with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 17 July 2015, dairy farmers are now able to recruit senior farmhands from overseas on 457 Visas as well as farm managers.

Eligibility for the 457 visa was previously restricted to farm managers which the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) recognises as skill level 1. Feedback indicated however that many farm employers were seeking workers with qualifications one level under management – capable of organising day-to-day operations but not necessarily making major decisions.

The Australian dairy industry is in a position to grow substantially over the next decade to meet the burgeoning demand across Asia for high quality, safe dairy products. Yet the industry’s capacity to increase production is fundamentally constrained by a chronic shortage of skilled labour in the Australian pool.

Recognising this, in 2014 Dairy Australia, in collaboration with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) approached the Department of Immigration with the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement Template. The agreement is designed to give farmers more options when seeking labour by expanding the eligibility criteria for 457 visas and reducing paperwork.

Chair of ADF Policy Advisory Group in the People and Human Capacity space, John Versteden said the agreement provides another option for farmers to fill the short term skills gap for farmhands in Australian dairy.

“The dairy industry’s most valuable asset is the people who work in it, which is why it is important to commit to attracting, retaining and developing the most skilled labour,” Mr Versteden said.

“While our preference is always to hire Australian workers, there are not enough experienced, available farmhands to meet the demand in a growing industry.”

The industry has invested heavily in training and upskilling its workforce, including via certificate and diploma courses offered through the National Dairy Education Centre (NCDE) since 2006. Although student numbers are steadily growing, it is still not enough to meet dairy’s growing demand for skilled workers as production scales up to meet growing export demand.

Senior farmhands recruited under the labour agreement must have Certificate III or equivalent qualifications in addition to at least three years of recent and relevant experience, or alternatively five years of recent and relevant experience.

You can find further information on the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement Template via http://www.thepeopleindairy.org.au/engagement-reward/contracts-and-agreements.htm


ADIC reiterates need to implement China-Australia FTA in 2015

Jul 31, 2015

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has reiterated the importance of ratifying the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) within the 2015 calendar year, to ensure the benefits can reach Australian producers as quickly as possible.

Any delay in implementation of the deal beyond 31 December 2015 will cost Australian dairy between $20 million and $60 million in tariffs. This will make it more difficult for the Australian industry to compete and gain further market share.

ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell said while the council recognised that debate about the ChAFTA is part and parcel of a vibrant democracy, the Parliament needed to keep in mind the opportunities at stake for agriculture and food production.

“For Australian dairy to grow and invest in our future profitability, we will require markets that offer a way forward and match our progress,” Mr Campbell said.

“China’s population is set to reach 1.6 billion by 2050 offering enormous opportunity to sustainably grow beyond domestic markets. Our opportunity in China is underpinned by their demand for high quality, safe, value-added products such as infant formula.

Mr Campbell reiterated that parliamentary support for the agreement, that sees the removal of all tariffs on dairy imports over a decade, remains essential.

“With a long record of innovation and adaptation to changing conditions and markets, Australia’s dairy producers are in a strong position to meet the particular demands of boosting exports to China and growing our market share,” Mr Campbell explained.

The Australian dairy industry has had a long and close relationship with China and ChAFTA will allow our industries to further develop this long-term relationship to the mutual benefit of both countries.

Timing is of the essence. If farmers are to maximise benefits from the removal of tariffs then the deal must be implemented in this calendar year.”

The ADIC looks forward to working with both sides of Government to ensure the implementation of the ChAFTA by 31 December 2015. 

 


Temporary skilled visas crucial for labour shortage

May 12, 2015

Like many agricultural commodities in Australia, dairy has an acute skilled labour shortage. Although the Australian dairy industry always gives precedence to employing Australian workers, enabling farmers to access skilled overseas workers is a positive way of addressing the gap when suitable domestic labour is not available.

The industry continues to assist farmers in gaining better access to overseas labour, through working to streamline the visa application processes for both farmers and workers. Further work is required by Government in this area to fully address the scope of this issue.

On 30 April 2015, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) lodged its submission to the Senate Education and Employment committee’s review into the impact of Australia’s temporary work visa programs on Australia’s labour market and on the temporary work visa holders.

Issues such as the need for improved alignment of the Australian Qualifications Framework and the skill classifications used by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, as well as the extension of 417 and 462 visas from six to 12 months, were key recommendations put forward by the ADIC.

In the submission, the ADIC highlighted the industry’s strong commitment to attracting, developing and retaining a highly skilled domestic workforce through a range of initiatives, including the National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE), which provides high quality education and training opportunities for people interested in developing a career in dairy.

The Australian dairy industry wholeheartedly supports fair and equal treatment of foreign workers. Recently, ABC’s investigative journalism programFour Cornersfeatured the mistreatment of migrant workers from Asia and Europe on a few poultry and horticulture farms in Australia. Such behaviour is not condoned by the ADIC and runs counter to the industry’s efforts to ensure that dairy farmers are responsible for their employment practices, including fair workplace relations and migration laws.

The Employment Starter Kit initiative (ESKi), which was developed by Dairy Australia in conjunction with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), is an example of this. The ESKi has been circulated to over 1,500 dairy farmers across Australia, assisting them in their understanding of Australia’s legal employment requirements, as well as offering information on how to improve working environments for both employees and employers.

For more information about how the ADIC is working to improve dairy’s acute labour shortage, click here or contact ADF Policy Officer, Kelly Im: kim@australiandairyfarmers.com.au.

 

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