Australia facing a severe shortage of farmers

by Ray Clancy on April 19, 2012

in Australia Immigration, Jobs in Australia

Recruitment of skilled agricultural workers from overseas will be necessary

Half of farmers in Australia are due to retire in the next decade leaving the country with a severe shortage and needing to recruit more skilled agricultural workers from abroad, it is claimed.

According to a report by KPMG submitted to the government as part of the Asian Century White Paper, the ever increasing average age of Australia’s farmers means that the country’s agriculture sector will suffer.

It recommends Australia visa changes in order to combat the severe shortages.

‘In the long term, agricultural skills gaps will inevitably lead to the need to source labour from overseas migration,’ it explained.

It also predicts that the mass retirement of farmers will lead to many farms being sold to international and corporate investors for their natural resources. This will lead to employment opportunities which, according to KPMG, Australians will struggle to fill.

It says that demand for agricultural jobs surpassed supply by almost 30% in 2008 and this figure is only expected to continue growing with the Australian government’s microeconomic advisory body, the Productivity Commission, estimating that the agricultural sector will generate a minimum of 32,000 new jobs annually.

‘There is a considerable risk that there will be a lack of experienced farmers to train younger farmers who will be critical to driving productivity improvements and adapting to challenges such as climate change, increased competition and an increase on focus on the environmental impacts of farming,’ said the report.

The Australian government is attempting to invest in domestic workers with initiatives such as the National Workforce Development Fund which is expected to inject AU$558 million into the economy over the next four years.

However, KPMG dismisses this as a short term measure and claims that visa change is the only feasible solution to the growing problem. It reckons that Asia can supply much of the needed workforce.

‘Asia will be an important contributor to bridging the skills gap and Australia will need to develop immigration policies with Asian countries to bridge this shortage,’ the report said.

In a separate report KPMG reveals that investment in agriculture research and development has declined since the middle of the 1970’s and among OECD countries, Australia has the lowest effective rate of government assistance to agribusiness, other than New Zealand.

‘This relatively low level of government investment in agriculture means that foreign direct investment is essential to improving research and development, innovation and infrastructure,’ the report pointed out.

‘Industry and government need to collaborate financially and operationally on the research and development front to enable the productivity gains essential to meet long term global demand. This includes marketing, product development, packaging and supply chain innovations,’ it added.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: