At the end of July, there were 920 temporary, business-sponsored migrants holding 457 visas working in agriculture in Queensland, compared with 300 in NSW and smaller numbers in other States (see Table 1.22 in this Immigration department report). While over 50% of the holders of 457 visas working in agriculture are in Queensland, only 24% of 457 visa holders working in the mining sector are (over 60% of 457 visa holders in the mining sector are located in WA).
Hence, Queensland agriculture – which is losing skilled workers to the resources sector – appears to be disproportionately reliant on temporary migration, particularly of young people from East Asia, as discussed in a Queensland Country Life article today about the rapidly growing Brisbane-based recruitment agency Labour Solutions:
While overseas workers filing shortages in the mining sector is commonplace, it is not widely reported that people overseas are also looking for an agriculture sector job in Australia.Yet Mr Northcott said his business provides workers to both small family owned properties and large agriculture corporations.
“We haven’t seen anything yet in the mining industry – they haven’t even scraped the surface with the number of projects they have going ahead,” he said.
“Mining can afford to pay much higher wages than agriculture and it is sustainable for them. There is very limited opportunity for agriculture other than to source overseas.”
With high unemployment in the 18-30 age bracket across Taiwan and South Korea and constant economic woes throughout Europe, many young people are leaving their family owned farms and applying for two years work on Australian properties.
Labour Solutions can even help out farmers with the provision of dongas for their temporary migrants:
If a farm does not have the accommodation to support a workforce, Labour Solutions provides dongas and sometimes even a cook, similar to the work camp structure already widely used by mining companies.