Harvesting Talent: Recruitment Trends in the Grain Sector

2020 is a year that will be indelibly marked in our minds for its trademark characteristics – the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns and China’s decision to enforce tariffs on Australian barley and – thankfully – an end to the drought that has plagued many regions of Australia. 

Despite the economic effects of COVID-19, primary production has again proven its resilience as an essential industry. New data has shown that agriculture is one of four Australian industries that has seen growth in job vacancies since the pandemic hit. According to data compiled by seek.com.au, job ads in agronomy and farm services are up 19.5% year on year and job ad views have increased by 26.8% YOY – the disparity between the figures showing candidates’ reluctance to jump ship.

Understanding the Pinch on Available Talent in Australian Grains

Figures released last week by ABARES suggest the winter crop harvest will be 27.6 million tonnes – the largest since 2016 and New South Wales is predicted to yield 9.5 million tonnes in wheat alone. On the back of a good season, demand for harvest workers has increased, with machinery drivers significantly in demand. Despite good news stories about grounded pilots being redeployed into agriculture, many growers are still struggling to find the staff required to get the crop off. The presence of job seeker payments is a factor, in addition to border closures and the migration of backpackers back to their home countries.

While there was some early season movement in storage and handling positions, employees in trading roles have their feet planted firmly under the desk. Unease about market conditions and COVID are preventing many employees from changing jobs, including in the grains sector. This has resulted in a shallow pool of candidates for employers looking for skilled and experienced workers, with many hiring managers feeling the pinch.

How Employers Can Tackle a Candidate-Short Market

Recruiting staff in the current environment is challenging, but not impossible. Employers are encouraged to focus on proactive strategies to target passive candidates. For more in-depth information on this subject, read our latest blog post – Recruiting Staff in a Candidate Short Market or contact The Lucas Group.

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