22 / June / 2017

Jobs ripe for the picking

Economic Development

Posted 22 June 2017

Strawberry season is well underway in the Moreton Bay Region, with hundreds of local job opportunities expected to be ripe for the picking right through to October.

The strawberry industry is a big contributor to the local economy, outputting up to 15,000 tonnes of fruit per season, equating to 60 million punnets of strawberries, and injecting $180 million into the state’s economy every year.

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland said that it is an exciting time of year for not only local strawberry farmers, but also for local job seekers.

“As the season reaches its peak around August and September, plenty of on-farm employment opportunities will soon be up for grabs, including picking strawberries in the field or working in packing sheds to place fruit into punnets, checking quality and organising pallets for delivery to stores,” Mayor Sutherland said.

“While this type of physical, seasonal work may not be for everybody, it could be a great job opportunity for young people or residents looking for some temporary work, to earn some extra money for the family, or simply wanting to learn a new skill,” he said.

South East Queensland offers ideal conditions for strawberry growing, with almost 80 percent of the state’s strawberries grown on farms spanning from Caboolture and up north to the Sunshine Coast.

Local strawberry farmer, Laura Wells, together with David Fairweather and their families Schiffke and Stothart, have been operating the ‘Taste n See’ strawberry farms at Bellmere, near Caboolture, for 26 years and at other locations within the Moreton Bay Region for 45 years.

“Each season, Taste ‘n’ See alone produces around five million punnets of strawberries - 100 percent of which have been stocked in Coles Supermarkets along the East Coast of Australia for the past ten years - from Far North Queensland down to Victoria,” Mrs Wells said.

She said they are always looking for more people to join the team, especially around peak season – August to September.

“Right now we employ around 160 people who have assisted with planting three million strawberry runners across our two farms, but during the peak of the season we will need to fill an extra 200 jobs once picking and packing gets underway.”

The Sweetest Job

With picking season in full-swing, the Skilling Queenslander’s for Work initiative ‘The Sweetest Job’ campaign is back after a successful year in 2016 that saw nearly 200 local people gain work in the local strawberry industry.

Due to the strong uptake, the campaign has been expanded to deliver jobs in the wider Food and Agribusiness industry across the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions.

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Moreton Bay is leading the campaign in partnership with Growcom, the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, the Food and Agribusiness Network, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay Regional Councils and local farmers and food processing operators.

The campaign will again be delivered by Stones Throw, the company behind the JobShow and other innovative local employment initiatives.

Get involved

Over 3,000 people registered for the 2016 Sweetest Job campaign.

In 2017, the Sweetest Job will again connect with local community organisations, Centrelink and job active clients, and other employment services providers to open up job opportunities to people who are struggling to find work.

In addition to the accredited training, there will be comprehensive support provided to help people overcome personal and work-related challenges.

The first project intake in Moreton Bay will focus on horticulture and is open now.

Jobseekers and local employers are encouraged to register their interest at www.thesweetestjob.com.au