IN an effort to address the labour shortage locally, member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone recently announced a pilot program that will see seasonal workers in the Riverland employed by a group training organisation to learn valuable skills and provide them with year-round work.
Funded under the Skilling SA initiative, local GTO Murraylands Employment and Training SA will employ 18 jobseekers, with 12 of them to commence Certificate II in Horticulture traineeships, with the Riverland Horticulture Council providing the training.
All participants will complete the Ready, Set, Go Employability Skills JobTrainer course to build their job readiness skills and capabilities with registered training organisation MADEC Australia.
Mr Whetstone said the "creative solution" would provide regional South Australians with full-time employment, while also addressing labour shortages in the agriculture sector.
"The trainees will complete four-month rotations with different employers where they will learn various skills that are essential to completing their traineeship," he said.
"This will give them a well-rounded experience and ensure they have the skills and capabilities to be assets to any agriculture business."
Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland deputy chief executive Vanessa Leigh said local businesses would also have access to a pool of labour they could tap into during peak times and release them when work ceases, to then become available to other businesses.
"Traditional seasonal work will be transformed into full-time employment for individuals, increasing the appeal of working in this sector," she said.
Lyrup fruit grower Sam Lloyd said the federal ag visa and local traineeship program were both great initiatives, as they struggled to find semi-skilled and management-skilled workers.
"We struggle to find anyone to do that work locally, even backpackers can be hit and miss," he said.
"That's where the recent Pacific Island Scheme worked really well, certainly made harvest time easier.
"The traineeship program would definitely increase the amount of skilled workers out there, but it takes time, whereas the Ag Visa will find skilled labour immediately."
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