When life gives you lemons, take a job lemon-picking. COVID has created a shortage of jobs and of seasonal workers: Could a spell in the orchard help get you through the summer?
In September, COVID welfare is due to expire in Australia. Youth unemployment will probably be high. Without the current government stimulus, the economy could run off a financial cliff, experts warn. Many young Australians will be short of cash and desperate for work.
There'll probably also be tens of thousands of picking jobs that are normally done by backpackers, according to Gavin Krake, manager of harvest services at MADEC, a not for profit that links growers and workers.
"What normally happens, without COVID, is we have 140,000 working holiday makers floating around the country," he said. "At the end of last week that was down to 87,000."
Backpackers have been returning home and new ones haven't been arriving. That shortfall of 53,000 workers is steadily increasing as more trickle away. Growers have been predicting a major shortage of willing hands from October, when summer crops in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW need to be picked.
Already parts of the country are feeling the pinch, Gavin said. "Areas like Riverland in South Australia would love to have another 200 citrus pickers right now. They're struggling to fill those positions because backpackers in those areas are gravitating back to Adelaide," he told abc.net.au. "They're striking a bit of trouble."
Brenden Brien, a communications manager with Sarina Russo job agency in Queensland, puts it this way: "Farmers want ya."