More than 6000 jobs are ripe for the picking, as the Federal Government launches a new trial for fruit pickers.
Written by Chloe Walker
Produce for online by Annie Pullar
Job seekers will be able to earn up to $5000 a year in seasonal fruit picking work without having their unemployment payments reduced.
It is hoped the trial will assist people living in regional areas fill a seasonal worker gap when the fruit picking period dries up.
Fruit producers across Australia were concerned a backpacker tax of 15 per cent, considered by the Senate last year, could cause a shortage of workers for the industry.
Sparking interest in ways to encourage local seasonal work, could not have come at a better time, with the youth unemployment rate in Australia, now more than 13 per cent.
Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Phil Pyke says the trial is one of many possible solutions he has discussed with the Federal Department of Employment.
“We’ve lobbied hard with the Federal Government to make the transition between casual seasonal labour and unemployment a lot easier,” says Mr Pyke.
Mr Pyke says this trial will benefit any industry that uses “itinerant workers,” instead of relying on backpackers to do the job.
“We’re actually excited that this will provide a pathway, from unemployment to casual seasonal labour and back again without penalty,” he says.
“It seems unusual to us that people rely more on the backpacker labour, when there’s large pools of unemployed who through various pathways would actually like to work.”
Commitment from both worker and employer is critical to ensure success of the trial.
“It will require a stronger commitment on behalf of those who are entering that program to ensure they are taking full advantage of the opportunity available,” says Mr Pyke.
Details about the fruit picking trial are yet to be released, including information on how many trial positions will be made available in each state.
The trial is expected to start on July 1.