South-west Victorian dairyfarmers are on the hunt for skilled employees to work and manage key aspects of their enterprises.
On Tuesday, The Standard revealed an estimated 1000 jobs are available across the south-west, with Warrnambool City Council predicting at least 70 dairy opportunities, as well as in excess of 200 labouring jobs.
Oonagh Kilpatrick, a dairy farmer with husband Harper at Koroit, is leading the charge to recruit employees to the region.
Earlier in May she co-hosted a session in Warrnambool about how to entice skilled employees with an immigration agent.
She said the discussion was around “how we can engage staff to fill the roles that Australians don’t seem to want and how can we attract those people to the region”.
About 10 other dairy farmers attended, all who have had trouble securing quality staff, she said.
She said the dairy industry wanted workers who were skilled, and could manage priority areas such as calving, herd health, milk production and grass.
“Those are all skills that we need in our industry,” she said.
“For every dollar the industry generates, the multiplication factor is about $4 in today’s economy.”
She said going forward she would continue to advocate, at a local, state and federal level.
“If we can’t attract the local unemployed population to our industry we need to look how we can use the current legislation,” she said.
“So what we are looking at is training visas. That’s one of the considerations we are looking at. What does a 407 visa allow us to do?
“The 457 rule has effectively been tightened or withdrawn depending on which occupation you are looking at,” Mrs Kilpatrick said.
She said business owners wanted skilled workers, who had a passion and sense of responsibility for what they were doing.
“We need someone who will see if something is wrong and ask why,” she said.
“We need people skilled who understand or are able to look and want to learn. We have to have staff that want to be on-farm in the first place and want to engage and think further than they are here to stick cups on cows.”