New visa program designed to help address labor shortage in Australia
Trade group Seafood Industry Australia is welcoming the Australian government's creation of a new visa program, hailing it as a means to address a labor shortage in Australia's seafood sector.
SIA said the newly created Australian Agriculture Worker Visa (Ag Visa) program will provide a “long-term, reliable workforce” for the commercial seafood sector.
“The Australian seafood industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing necessary border closures, most notably through an inability to access the foreign-labor market, which, like other primary producers around the country, our sector is underpinned by,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said in a release. “Importantly, the visa will be available to the whole of agriculture including fisheries, forestry, and agricultural processing sectors and will target seasonal, skilled and semi-skilled workers, with the ability for them to move between locations to follow the seasonality of sectors.”
Papacosta many the ongoing labor shortage has forced many fishing companies to idle their vessels for two to three months at a time. It has also resulted in aquaculture farms being meet productivity targets, she said.
“Despite high unemployment rates in Australia and the displacement of workers in [the] tourism and hospitality sectors, the seafood industry has remained unable to attract more of the local skilled labor market due to the nature of the work, and as such, we rely on international labor,” Papacosta said. “We see this visa as an extension of the strides made under the Pacific Labour Mobility [scheme], with broader access and more opportunities. We applaud this commitment from the Australian government and we look forward to continuing discussions on how the visa will assist in a pathway to permanent residency.”
Photo courtesy of Seafood Industy Australia