The labor shortage in Australia has been well publicized. Normally the country would have 300,000 backpackers to fill jobs, but they have been slow to come back after the pandemic closed the borders. With an unemployment rate of just 3%, the horticulture industry, in particular, is struggling for workers to pick and pack crops. In an attempt to fill this void, Swaggie recently launched a platform to match casual, seasonal, and ongoing work around current and future availability or need.
"We set out to solve this problem after seeing high rates of unemployment across agriculture, hospitality, and tourism during covid (closed borders, job keeper, etc.) while understanding that there were no solutions for employers (recruiters, etc.) looking for workers around predictable harvests, tourism seasons, or with a continuous transition of workers," said Jamie Wills from the company.
Swaggie is supported by peak bodies across Agriculture, Hospitality, and Tourism and is now used by all 6 Harvest Trail Providers.
"We facilitate a connection between prospective workers and employers, allowing those parties to determine suitability between each other. The platform provides relevant information so users can make informed decisions about opportunities, experiences, and destinations across metro, regional and remote Australia."
Swaggie is designed for all types of employers/recruiters and job seekers (Backpackers, international students, and Aussies) across all industries. Swaggie employers have received job applications from harvest pickers and machine operators through to hospitality all-rounders, cleaners, cooks, laborers, ski-field operators, and metropolitan pubs and retail shopfronts.
Other platforms charge for access or use, which has driven users to ad-hoc solutions for finding work or workers. Swaggie believes it should be free to post and apply for work on the internet. If posting or finding work is free, the roadblocks driving people to ad-hoc and exploitative channels (to avoid 30-day job posts that cost hundreds of dollars) are removed.
Open-ended job listings mean workers can be sought for any current or future need, and workers can engage with employers ahead of time - supporting an ability to find opportunities around study, travel, life, or other work and experiences.
Companies, peak bodies, and interest groups can create and/or link to company pages, to drive people to followable pages showing relevant jobs and information. Numerous other features are being developed, with on-platform notifications and messaging due to be released in June.
"Swaggie is free to use for both employers and workers, with numerous features being developed, including on-platform notifications and messaging, journey planning, group applications, group messaging, ratings and reviews, and linked company pages. While the platform will remain free to use for posting and applying for work, following companies, etc. - in the future, we will be offering Premium Subscriptions as a value-add for advanced user interactions (kind of like Spotify or LinkedIn).
Only ABN verified businesses may post work on the platform, avoiding gig-work and cash-jobs where workers may be more susceptible to exploitation. In addition, with job posts requiring information such as pay rates and inclusions (accommodation, travel, work, 2nd/3rd-year visa), workers can have more confidence in the work opportunities they are considering, enhancing participation and protection.
Features like on-platform messaging also support privacy for both employers and workers, rather than having to manage and engage workers through personal channels like Facebook messaging.
"Our service is useable for overseas people who have or are coordinating working rights in Australia (i.e., Backpackers). We have also received numerous inquiries and applications from overseas workers looking for agriculture or other work posted on our platform. Swaggie is keen to explore solutions regarding mobility or engagement of these prospective workers to better support overseas applicants. This could be via registered migration or sponsorship services and/or through Agricultural Visas, the Pacific Labour Scheme, or other channels. We also intend to make our service useable for overseas markets.
Swaggie is a sponsor and will exhibit at this year's Hort Connections 2022 to show support for industry, peak bodies, and recruiters/ employers who have backed them on their journey to build a better solution for employers with a need to find workers in Australia – and of course to let more people know about the services they offer.
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