Hillwood Berries joined the Seasonal Worker Programme in 2013. The returning workforce has helped to increase the farm’s productivity, and the business now employs workers from two different countries.
After initially employing workers from Tonga in 2013, Hillwood Berries has continued to recruit from the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) with workers from Timor-Leste and Tonga.
The SWP and accommodation manager at Hillwood Berries, Sue Williams, said the returning SWP workforce has improved productivity on the farm.
“The programme is a really wonderful labour resource,” Sue said.
“Workers coming back every season means less training is needed and in the second season, the workers hit the ground running from the day they arrive. This has definitely helped to improve productivity on the farm.”
Research conducted by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) in 2018 found that the productivity of workers from the SWP was on average 20 per cent higher than that of working holiday-makers, based on fruit picking tasks.
Furthermore, the ABARES research attributed the higher productivity levels of seasonal workers to their “physical capabilities and motivation level; as seasonal workers aim to earn a good income to support their families and therefore, they are hard-working, reliable and willing to do what it takes to get the job done”.