New WA Government Initiative to battle skills shortages in agrifood sector

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Image credit: flickr User: Lars Kasper

The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia (CCIWA) are set to collaborate on the new Agrifood Labour Initiative aimed at boosting WA’s agrifood sector.

New WA Government Initiative to battle skills shortages in agrifood sector
Image credit: flickr User: Lars Kasper

“Experience shows that businesses in these sectors rely heavily on a transient workforce. WA’s agriculture and food sector has the opportunity to harness growth in demand from export markets. Better access to skilled and semi-skilled labour will be critical in taking advantage of these opportunities. The Agrifood Labour Initiative will co-ordinate actions to improve access to suitable labour through workforce development, training and migration strategies,” said Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston in a statement.

The two-year project is expected to boost skills in the agrifood sector and is seen as an opportunity to harness growth in demand from export markets.

The skills shortage issue was raised by the Agrifood Alliance Western Australia, so the group will provide the necessary input to document across-sector labour supply needs and concerns.

Jackie Jarvis, the 2014 Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) Western Australian Rural Woman of the Year, will be the initiative’s labour and skills consultant.

“Ms Jarvis has a good background and an understanding of the challenges in the sector, having been the State manager of a not-for-profit employment, training and community development agency providing seasonal and semi-skilled workers for the horticulture industry and successfully helping migrants find employment on farms,” Mr Baston said.