With the implementation of the Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement (HILA) this year, Australian horticultural companies are better equipped to help ease their worker shortages. Acting minister for immigration, Alan Tudge, signed off on the agreement in December 2019. It came into effect on January 1 this year.
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.
It is 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 was one of the main pushers for the agreement, working in conjunction with the wider horticulture industry through the National Farmers Federation Horticulture Council, plus other horticulture industry bodies and migration experts.
Ausveg chief executive officer, James Whiteside said the HILA was another step forward to address the horticulture industry's labour shortages: "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.”
"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.”