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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries
    The Honourable Leanne Donaldson

    New rural jobs network to benefit producers and workers

    Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries
    The Honourable Leanne Donaldson

    Friday, February 12, 2016

    New rural jobs network to benefit producers and workers

    Rural employers and jobseekers will benefit from a landmark partnership launched today by Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson.

    "The Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) is a partnership between the Palaszczuk Government and industry to make it easier for agricultural employers in rural Queensland to find the workers they need," the Minister said.

    "From today a series of industry-based officers will be working throughout the state to help employers better understand local employment and training options.

    "We recognise that for many rural agricultural businesses labour supply issues are a real barrier to prosperity and we have forged a partnership with industry groups to tackle those issues.

    "QAWN officers will identify labour and skills gaps, provide information on educational and employment pathways and guide employers to the service providers and funding sources that can help them grow.

    “These officers will also work closely with regional employment and training services providers to ensure they truly understand the needs of agricultural employers and best match job seekers with vacancies.

    "This is another element in a Queensland Government package of rural jobs initiatives that include the Queensland Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance, industry to schools programs and support for agriculture industries to address labour shortages and skills gaps.

    "The aim is to build greater capacity by supporting the attraction, retention and development of agricultural workers, with a particular emphasis on activities that consider the unique needs of our regions and rural communities."

    Pat Hannon, chief executive officer of Growcom, said the importance of the network could not be overstated.

    “The Queensland Government’s support for the network of Agriculture Workforce Officers is a welcome acknowledgement of the contribution that the sector makes to the State’s economy,” he said.

    “Queensland’s agriculture industry is facing an increasingly complex set of workforce challenges that have the potential to impact on business viability and profitability, so this initiative is very timely.

    “The network will ensure that there is a multi-faceted, coordinated approach to tackling one of the major challenges facing agriculture - accessing a consistent supply of appropriately skilled workers.

    “The importance of this industry-led initiative cannot be understated.”

    Minister Donaldson launched the network in Bundaberg where Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers are one of five agriculture industry organisations comprising QAWN.

    BFVG Executive Officer, Peter Hockings said it was an exciting initiative to further develop the capacity of agricultural businesses and build the number of skilled workers in agriculture.

    “Access to a suitably skilled workforce is a constant challenge for many agricultural employers, and 'upskilling' their existing workforce can also be cost-prohibitive,” he said.

    "Through the QAWN we will be able to assist individual businesses decipher the complex network of training service providers, funding sources and incentive packages available to meet their specific skills and training needs. 

    “We will also be able to help employees understand how to improve their own capacity to work in agriculture and increase their employment prospects within agriculture." Mr Hockings said.

    The organisations involved are BFVG, Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, CANEGROWERS Mackay and Growcom.

    The network will operate until the end of 2017, during which time its contribution to agricultural production will be monitored and evaluated.

    For more information contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23.

    Media contact: 0417 768 626.