Over a number of years I have met with many businesses who have found it extremely difficult to find and retain employees to fill a range of important roles within their business.

Production horticulturalist, farm managers, nursery persons, market gardeners, crop or vegetable farmers, farm facility managers and even through to farm workers and pickers and packers.

What many people don’t know is that the Australian migration program provides a range of opportunities to local business to address skill shortages.

Within the migration program there are visas such as working holiday visas, training visas and other long stay temporary working visas and also permanent working visas that can be used to assist local business.

I have answered many question about employing staff from overseas and have helped many businesses understand how the Australian migration program can help.

Did you know that you might be able to employ someone from overseas on a temporary and permanent visa? Would this help your business?

What many people are surprised to learn is how easy this process can be and how helpful the program is to attract and retain skilled workers.

There are many businesses who could benefit from using the Australian migration program to meet demands, and there are countless people with skills, qualifications and experience in horticulture who are looking for an employer. It’s simply a matter of connecting the two parties together.

Currently there is a review of a the 400 series of temporary visas and Australia’s skilled migration program.  I have made a number of recommendations that if implemented, will provide greater flexibility and make it easier for AUSVEG members to employ staff from overseas to help your business grow.  AUSVEG have also made recommendations to this review that support great access and improved flexibility. I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important this review is to the future of Australia’s temporary and permanent migration programs.

Unfortunately it appears as though the Immigration Department do not appreciate or understand the skilled nature of work being undertaken in this industry, nor the importance of having the the right people employed within a business.  Their ongoing prescriptive use of an outdated occupational dictionary must cease and the State and Federal Government needs to listen and engage with industry groups such as AUSVEG in order to understand what AUSVEG members need and the type of skills that are required to work in a highly competitive and highly skilled industry.

I believe that it is extremely unfair and disrespectful for the Australian Immigration Department and the State government to continue to restrict and block access to the migration program and question the industry about the skill level required.

Over a number of years I have seen the Immigration Department and Immigration SA refuse many genuine temporary and skilled employer nominated permanent visas, despite independent advice from AusVeg, the Primary Industry Skills Council and the Nursery Growers Industry Association being provided in support of a visa application. However, I am hopeful that the current review of the 400 series of visas and the skilled migration program will provide greater flexibility and access to AUSVEG members and across the board in the agricultural and horticultural industries.

On a more positive note, recently we have seen the Immigration Department approve the role of a nurseryperson on a local vegetable farm. There is no question that the skills, qualifications, experience and the role being undertaken by the visa applicant were being performed at a skilled level.  It is very pleasing to see that this application was approved and I am hopeful that this is a sign of things to come.

This week there have been further changes to Immigration policy which make it easier for businesses to employ skilled horticultural staff upon completion of an Australian qualification which is great news.

Over the coming months I will be writing about various opportunities within the migration program that are available to businesses in the horticultural sector, specifically designed to assist business to employ the staff that they need to help their business grow and succeed.

If you have any questions about how the Australian migration program can assist your business, please contact my office at any time.

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