Thursday, March 21, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Tackling Chronic Harvest Labour Shortages Course Continues To Yield Results For Industry

Shortages remain an annual issue for growers and harvest contractors. It is a fact of life that seasonal workers need to maintain a living year-round, and so often move on to other regions post-harvest, or find more permanent work. However, for the viability of the entire sugar industry, it is vital that harvesters recruit enough haulout drivers that they can get the harvested crop off to sidings to load to cane trains. The work is a critical link in the delivery of crop from paddock to mill.

CANEGROWERS Mackay Chairman Kevin Borg said the organisation is committed to supporting new workers to the industry.

“It’s important for new workers to the sugar industry to gain the practical skills they need to do the work, and the workplace health and safety awareness so that the industry can work towards the goal of an injury-free harvest,” he said.

“To that end, for over 15 years CANEGROWERS Mackay annually delivers two four-day courses on-farm in April-May, led by experienced grower harvesters and backed by RTO Axiom College. It has delivered some great results for the harvest sector and people looking to the sugar industry for work.

“With the emerging bio-commodities sector, and a world looking towards renewable products, it’s an exciting time to connect with the sugar industry.”

CANEGROWERS Mackay is inviting people to apply for the 2024 courses starting 30 April and 7 May, with 20 fully funded spots available. The courses are funded through the QLD Government Skilling Queenslanders for Work program.

Amie Williams took the course in 2023, and had secured work with a Pioneer Valley grower as she prepared to take the course. She said that she left the course with full confidence in her capability to do the work of a haulout driver. In 2024, she will work with the same grower.

“The course was really invaluable. I worked all last season, and had no accidents, my boss was really happy, and has employed me again this year,” Ms Williams said.

For Amie, the course was an opportunity to re-connect with cane growing, the industry which her great-grandfathers had chosen, and to move out of hospitality, where she had worked for nine years. She had approached an employment agency about truck work, and the course was suggested to her.

“They suggested I give this course a try, and it all just fell into place. With the family history, it just feels like what I am meant to do!” Visit and look under training to connect with the course, or call 4944 2600.

Senior Trainer Ron Gurnett shares a lifetime of experience in harvest with course participants

Amie Williams 

Kevin Borg with 2023 trainee George Sweeney

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