Agricultural Workforce

Update of agriculture occupations in ANZSCO

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to review the classification of occupations in the agriculture sector in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). 

Further information is available on the Have Your Say site and in the media release Updating ANZSCO commences March 2021.

Australia’s agricultural industry is worth around $60 billion to our nation’s economy. Ensuring the industry has access to sufficient and appropriately skilled workers is vital.

In December 2019, the government established the independent National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee, chaired by Mr John Azarias, to develop a National Agricultural Workforce Strategy report.

After consultation with more than 300 organisations and consideration of 117 submissions, the strategy report was submitted to government for consideration with 37 recommendations.

The agricultural sector employs more than 322,000 people. The strategy report highlights that Australian agriculture is a complex and sophisticated system and its performance relies heavily on the quality of its people.

The committee’s recommendations confirm the need to:

  • modernise agriculture’s image
  • create opportunities to attract, diversify and retain workers
  • embrace innovation
  • build skills for modern agriculture
  • ensure agricultural workers are treated ethically and lawfully.

The committee emphasised the importance of quality, up-to-date data to address outdated information. It also recognised that migrant and overseas workers will continue to play an important part in filling workforce gaps.

Our Delivering Ag2030 plan sets the foundations for Australian agriculture to rebound from COVID-19 and build towards industry’s vision of a $100 billion industry by 2030.

Human capital is a key theme of Ag2030, recognising that access to a sufficient, reliable and suitable workforce is essential to achieving this target.

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​Document Pages File size
National Agricultural Workforce Strategy PDF  327 5.1 MB
National Agricultural Workforce Strategy DOCX  327 8.4 MB
Australian Government Roadmap PDF  14 5.5 MB
Australian Government Roadmap DOCX  14 466 KB

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National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee

Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee members:

  • Mr John Azarias (Chair) – Public policy specialist, NSW
  • Professor Ruth Nettle (Deputy Chair) – Leader of Rural Innovation Research Group, University of Melbourne, VIC
  • Mr John Williams (Deputy Chair) – Former NSW Senator, NSW
  • Mr Will Barton – CEO of Gundagai Meat Processors, NSW
  • Industry Professor Hermione Parsons – Director of the Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics, Deakin University, VIC
  • Mr Geoff Richards – Managing Director of Richgro Garden products and former Chair of Agrifood Skills Australia, WA
  • Dr Angeline Achariya – Executive Director of Innovation and Growth at Simplot Australia, VIC
  • Ms Julie Aldous – Rural educator, VIC
  • Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer – Health Research Institute and the Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, ACT
  • Mr Robert Hinrichsen – Owner/Director of Kalfresh, QLD
  • Mr Clayton Nelson – Senior Executive at Austral Fisheries, WA

The committee conducted a comprehensive consultation process between March and August 2020, speaking to more than 300 stakeholders across the sector, including:

  • education providers
  • rural research and development corporations
  • industry representatives
  • governments
  • producers
  • grower and farm systems groups
  • processors and retailers.

The committee received more than 100 written submissions on its National Agricultural Workforce Strategy discussion paper.

Terms of reference

Purpose

The purpose of the National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee (the Committee) is to help progress the National Agricultural Workforce Strategy (the Strategy) and to advise the Government on farm labour and agricultural sector workforce challenges. The strategy provides the opportunity to comprehensively assess the workforce needs of the agriculture industry.

Scope

The Committee will:

  • prepare the Strategy, including considering and examining:
    • the current and expected future agriculture industry workforce and skill needs
    • the current and expected demand and supply of labour for the agricultural supply chain to meet future agriculture industry workforce and skill needs
    • the effectiveness of current education and training arrangements, including programs designed to promote agricultural careers to students, at meeting the agriculture industry’s workforce and skills needs
    • best practice examples and case studies of agricultural workforce development and potential innovative approaches aiming to deliver better outcomes
    • the outcomes from any other relevant reviews, consultation to date and inputs made by industry groups.
  • as requested by government, provide specialist advice on farm labour and agricultural sector workforce challenges.

Note: ‘agriculture industry’ includes the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries and their closely allied service and supply chain industry sectors.

Background

The Australian agriculture industry is changing, including through:

  • the adoption of technologically advanced equipment and techniques
  • the emergence of internationally competitive industry and business structures
  • production changing to favour regions or products that are competitively advantaged
  • a trend towards supplying premium food and fibre products.

At the same time as these changes are occurring, research suggests there is a lack of understanding about career prospects in the industry. There are also concerns about the ability of current education and training initiatives to upskill the industry workforce in response to the changes listed above.

The situation is dynamic. Responsibility for developing the agricultural workforce is shared between a suite of Commonwealth and State and Territory Government agencies, industry representative and private sector stakeholders. Workforce development initiatives undertaken by these groups confront opposing forces from environmental, economic and social factors, such as drought or poor commodity prices.

The Strategy will recommend potential actions to address the agriculture industry’s future workforce needs. These actions will target school education, vocational education and training and higher education to attract, retain and upskill the domestic workforce and identify where access to a migrant workforce will be necessary to meet the industry’s workforce needs.

Last reviewed: 30 April 2021
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