Historically, many Australian businesses and industries have depended on skilled migration to fill critical roles, particularly in key supply chains such as agriculture which employs more than 35,000 overseas workers.
Horticulture in particular has been impacted by border closures, with ABARES survey data indicating the number of workers used by Australian horticulture farms declined around 8 per cent (11,100 workers) from 2019–20 to 2020–21.
A focus on training
ANZ customers have employed various tactics to attract and retain talent.
For example, horticulture businesses in Victoria’s northwest have built on-farm accommodation to house workers and retain a core workforce to supplement local contractors.
They’ve also utilised multiple labour contractors to mitigate risk and create a larger pool of workers from which to recruit.
Giovanni Siano, owner and director of Geelong-based business Home Instead Australia understands the value of training. It’s a key element of his company’s recruitment strategy.
Established in 2018, Home Instead Australia offers a range of in-home care solutions to the elderly and people living with a disability and has grown from 10 to 260 staff during the past three-years.
Last year it launched its Care Again program which offers people who may have been out of the workforce for some time on the job training and an accreditation in Certificate Three for in-home support. Employees are allocated a care-giver coach to promote skills building and confidence.
“There in an unprecedented workforce shortage and if we continued to recruit only care givers with relevant industry qualifications, we couldn’t keep up with demand,” says Siano.
“Our solution is to hire based on cultural fit - people who are aligned with our core values and have the right attitude. Combined with a willingness to learn we are confident we have the right in-house training and support systems to create a high-performing team of care-givers.”
This strategy has enabled the company to recruit 130-care givers in the past 12 months alone, with two recruitment and training rounds, with around 5-8 care givers, occurring weekly.
Siano admits there is no silver bullet. He estimates about 70 per cent of approaches from potential employees are due to word of mouth and 30 per cent due to a combination of public relations, social media and the use of a local recruitment agency.
“Our ability to continue to attract and retain talent comes down to the culture and working environment we have created for employees, with opportunities to learn and grow on the job. It’s important for all businesses to consider what they’re offering employees and how it’s different from the competition.”
The Australian Government has also recognised the severity of the workforce shortage and implemented several initiatives designed to assist employers fill vacancies.