Horticulture growers will now be better able to fill skilled and semi-skilled vacancies in their business with a Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement (HILA) being signed by Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge.

The HILA will enable approved businesses to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers from a select list of occupations to fill jobs where growers can demonstrate there are no local workers able or willing to fill them.

The HILA will become the largest and most comprehensive labour agreement in Australia following the acceptance of 31 occupations as well as important concessions to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) and the visa being uncapped. Other agricultural sectors, including the dairy, pork and meat industries, have similar agreement in place.

AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said the HILA was another step forward to address the horticulture industry’s labour shortages, and that ensuring horticulture growers have access to a reliable and competent workforce is a critical issue for the industry to overcome.

“Horticulture growers, not just those in the vegetable industry, need a skilled workforce to use sophisticated technologies to efficiently plant, harvest and package their products to local and international consumers,” said Mr Whiteside.

“Horticulture is a highly-developed industry that needs a skilled, reliable, competent and efficient workforce, just like any other skilled industry in Australia. Horticulture businesses require skilled people to undertake technical and highly-skilled jobs to help drive their businesses, and the wider $13 billion horticulture industry, forward in what is a critical juncture for Australian agriculture to reach its target of $100 billion by 2030.”

“Growers always prefer to employ local skilled workers, but there are considerable barriers in accessing them, from a lack of vocational and higher education opportunities in this space, to a lack of horticulture technical expertise in Australia.”

“An Industry Labour Agreement is an important step forward for industry as it continues to compete on a global scale not only in terms of cost of production, but the skills and technology advancements in this space.”

An important aspect of the HILA was that it will remain uncapped which will mean growers will not limited to a particular number of places under the agreement.

“Allowing the HILA to be demand-driven is a good win for industry,” Mr Whiteside said.

AUSVEG was successful in advocating for this important agreement because it did so with the backing of the wider horticulture industry through the National Farmers Federation Horticulture Council, as well as other horticulture industry bodies and migration experts.

“It is important that we as an industry came together on a common issue to help advance the cause of all horticulture growers which impedes our ability to improve productivity, competitiveness and profitability,” said Mr Whiteside.

“This agreement is a significant step forward for the industry that will help businesses get the skilled workforce they require as our industry becomes more skilled and technologically-savvy.”
AUSVEG thanked the various industry bodies for their support in creating the agreement as well as migration specialists Mark Glazbrook, Migration Solutions, and Mark Cody, Primary Industry Skills Council SA, for their expertise in developing the agreement for the benefit of growers.

Growers were now encouraged to head to the Department of Home Affairs website to see how the HILA may benefit their business – https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/employing-and-sponsoring-someone/sponsoring-workers/nominating-a-position/labour-agreements

MEDIA CONTACT: Tyson Cattle, AUSVEG National Public Affairs Manager
Phone: 03 9882 0277, Mobile: 0427 500 618, Email: tyson.cattle@ausveg.com.au