PHd Research Project

Securing a Sustainable Workforce for the Produce Industry

About the research project

The Tasmanian fruit industry contributes around $197 million and the vegetable industry over $251 million to the state economy (AgriGrowth Tasmania). The North West coast is at the centre of Tasmania’s vegetable and fruit industry and, as in much of Australia, the harvest of this produce is heavily dependent on temporary visa holders. The fragility of these arrangements has been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent border closures, leading to concerns there may be insufficient workers now and into the future to harvest this seasonal produce.

This labour shortage occurs in a region with high levels of unemployment and disadvantage and has seen debates about the sustainability of the current arrangements for both growers, workers and the community. This project will target cohorts such as the young and unemployed or underemployed workers and will examine the interaction between welfare and labour market policy to assess the structural barriers hindering their participation in this workforce. It aims to develop place-based solutions that will be applicable to other Australian regions.

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