Greater Shepparton City Council and Fruit Growers Victoria’s seasonal worker attraction campaign ‘Pick Shepp’ has received additional funding to expand across the Goulburn Valley.
Launched in December, the campaign aimed at attracting seasonal workers from around Australia to the region to work the harvest and support Aussie farmers due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Fruit Growers Victoria was successful in applying to the Regional Recovery fund supported by Regional Development Victoria (RDV) for $500,000 to grow ‘Pick Shepp’ on a larger scale, and be rebranded as ‘Pick Goulburn Valley (GV)’ and deliver it throughout the wider region in partnership with Greater Shepparton City Council and Cobram and District Fruit Growers Association.
Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Councillor Kim O’Keeffe said there was a number of opportunities available in the region’s agriculture and horticultural industries.
“Picking is a great way to get your foot in the door, with opportunities for ongoing work, training and further career advancement. If a job seeker can pick fruit they are almost guaranteed ongoing farm work as they have proven their abilities and that they have the right aptitude for farm work. ” Cr O’Keeffe said.
“Fruit growers across the region did their best to navigate through the impacts of COVID-19 throughout the picking season this summer and this further funding will provide support in the lead up to next season.”
Pick Shepp saw close to 100 jobseekers provided with farm work and nearly 30 per cent of those continue working on farms.
From the initial program, 90 workers were mentored by field supervisors and this will be further developed for the 2022 season.
The grant money will see the campaign continue to attract seasonal workers as well as create a Horticultural Learning Portal to provide access to digital training services to reduce the time associated with recruiting, training and retaining staff. This will allow growers to spend more time managing their business.
The Greater Shepparton region is one of the largest fruit producing regions in Australia producing 86% of Australia’s pears, 70% of Australia’s peaches, 49% of Australia’s plums, 80% of Australia’s Kiwi Fruit and 38% of Australia’s apples to name a few.
“Being the fruit bowl of Victoria, there is work available all year round in our region with opportunities to learn new skills and create exciting career pathways,” Cr O’Keeffe said.