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Finding workers from overseas a hot Ag-Quip topic

Working together at Ag-Quip: RDANI Snr Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings (centre), with Immigration Dept. Outreach Officers, Suzanne Gillham and Stephen Romano.
Working together at Ag-Quip: RDANI Snr Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings (centre), with Immigration Dept. Outreach Officers, Suzanne Gillham and Stephen Romano.

With Ag-Quip done and dusted for another year and the site of Australia's biggest agricultural field days essentially just another North West NSW paddock, businesses and organisations are now reflecting on what Ag-Quip 2011 meant to them. Senior Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings with Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) said the event was extremely worthwhile.

"One of RDANI's many regional development roles is the certification of skilled migration and employer sponsored visas. Ag-Quip numbers were strong and it enabled RDANI to make a number of new connections with local businesses which pursue and benefit from the skilled migrant option," Ms Hastings said.

The field days were beneficial for two representatives of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and those who took the opportunity to talk to them about the often complex and lengthy immigration processes.

"Ag-Quip was an ideal forum for Immigration Department officers, Stephen Romano and Suzanne Gillham to engage with Northern Inland NSW employers, particularly those within rural industries," Ms Hastings said. "They had numerous conversations, both general and specific in nature, with one rural business operator traveling several hundred kilometres from Warren to discuss his particular situation."

According to Ms Hastings, there should have been even more demand. "Across Northern Inland NSW, employers in businesses ranging from broad-acre farming to construction, the beauty industry to allied health professionals are battling and failing to find the staff that they need for their businesses to grow or even function," she said. "There is real frustration and stress out there in the region. Small business managers are taking on multiple roles, trying to cover for the suitably qualified and experienced staff that they cannot find. Meanwhile, embattled economies in other parts of the world, such as the UK, have an abundance of skilled workers who cannot find work."

"With funding assistance from NSW Trade and Investment, RDANI is working hard to get the message out to employers in the region about recruiting workers from overseas. It is important that employers take opportunities to learn about the options they have for meeting their business needs, even if they do not go down the skilled migrant path," Ms Hastings said.

RDANI has certified over 230 employer sponsored/skilled migrant visas in the past 12 months.

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