A JOBS campaign which last year helped local people get work in the strawberry industry has been expanded to deliver jobs in the wider food and agribusiness industry.
The Sweetest Job campaign helped almost 200 people find seasonal work and was hailed as a “fantastic outcome” for the local strawberry industry.
Its expansion follows investment by the Queensland Government under its Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.
Head of Sunshine Coast Council’s Economic Development Portfolio, Cr Steve Robinson, said agribusiness injected $670 million into the local economy and was one of the seven high-value industries identified in the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy.
“The industry is vital to our local economy and it is incredibly important that we support our processors with a skilled and sustainable workforce,” he said.
“We saw some fantastic outcomes for strawberry growers following The Sweetest Job campaign in 2016.
“This year we will see more people employed, not just on farms, but across the agribusiness supply chain.
“The aim is to increase the number of local people employed in seasonal work, and upskill 120 jobseekers in horticulture, logistics and food processing to meet demand for ongoing, skilled positions.”
The Sweetest Job initiative is being led by Regional Development Australia (RDA) Moreton Bay in partnership with Growcom, the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, the Food and Agribusiness Network, Moreton Bay Regional Council and local farmers and food processing operators.
RDA Moreton Bay Chair Shane Newcombe said feedback from industry during the 2016 campaign confirmed that a project incorporating an industry skills component would be welcomed by local employers, particularly for meeting the need for entry-level skilled positions.
“Thanks to Queensland Government investment and support from our partners, we have delivered on this with training in horticulture, logistics and food processing qualifications available for project participants.
“This is in addition to the seasonal picking and packing jobs on strawberry farms, which will again be open to Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay residents looking for work.
“For local growers, the additional Skilling Queenslanders for Work investment means there will be more resources behind the training, selection and screening of workers to ensure growers, food processing firms and other food and agribusiness employers get the right people with the right skills.”
This year The Sweetest Job will again connect with local community organisations, Centrelink and job active clients, and other employment services providers to open up job opportunities to people who are struggling to find work.
As well as the accredited training, there will be comprehensive support provided to help people overcome personal and work-related challenges
Food and Agribusiness Network general manager Emma Greenhatch said the expansion of the campaign was a great opportunity for food processing companies and industry supply chain firms, such as transport and logistics operators, to increase the skills of their workforce and benefit from associated productivity gains.
“We would love to see The Sweetest Job initiative contribute to our local food and agribusiness industry being more competitive in national and international markets,” she said.
“Success here will not only create more job opportunities for the industry, it will also grow the broader food and agribusiness economy and help to attract new investment to the region.”
Jobseekers and local employers are encouraged to register their interest at www.thesweetestjob.com.au.