People from CALD backgrounds make up a minimum of 11% of Australia’s agricultural workforce. However, an opportunity exists to capture their diverse skills, experience and ideas to fill skills gaps in agriculture and strengthen the industry for the future.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 – where Victorian agricultural business navigated border closures, supply chain disruptions and workforce uncertainty – Agriculture Victoria commissioned a social research study to capture critical insights of CALD communities and their interest in working in agriculture as part of its Smarter Safer Farms project.
Our team conducted a mapping exercise to establish where large CALD populations overlapped with significant areas of potential agriculture employment across the state. Four areas of Victoria were chosen for further study – Gippsland, Mildura/Swan Hill, Shepparton and South West Victoria.
A desktop review and interviews were then conducted with CALD settlement agencies and individuals, agricultural industry bodies and businesses and educational institutions.
The project considered the existing skills and workforce gaps for the agricultural sector, the barriers preventing CALD communities from pursuing a career in agriculture and the opportunities to overcome those barriers.
As agricultural areas and jobs are mostly found in rural and regional areas, we also investigated the importance of settlement and support services in those regions and how they are a key factor in encouraging CALD communities into a career in agriculture.
A follow-on project also explored the skills of Australians (including permanent residents and those on visas) from CALD backgrounds and how they compared with the skills gaps that dairy and horticulture industries are experiencing, which in many cases are well beyond what is required for entry level labour jobs. It then provided recommendations to ensure both the Victorian dairy and horticulture industries and CALD communities thrive into the future.
We spoke to industry peak bodies, education providers, organisations that work with CALD communities, farm businesses and individual employees from CALD backgrounds. This culminated in an action plan for the dairy industry to lead with the support from those involved in the working groups established as part of this project. A summary of the elements of the action plan can be seen in the image below.
Key findings from the follow-on project include:
For more information please contact RMCG Senior Consultant Deborah Prentice at firstname.lastname@example.org and 0412 215 328, or Agriculture Victoria Regional Manager, Dairy, South East, Del Delpitiya at email@example.com.