Horticulture

Seasonal more productive

By Country News

Seasonal workers are on average 20 per cent more productive than backpackers, an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences report has found.

The study, commissioned by World Bank, focused on the productivity and contribution to farm profitability of workers through the Seasonal Worker Program and working holiday makers.

ABARES executive director Steve Hatfield-Dodds said one set of workers was more productive than the other.

‘‘The productivity of seasonal workers was, on average, 20 per cent higher than that of working holiday makers for the farm businesses in this study, based on fruit picking tasks,’’ Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

‘‘This estimate was derived from data for 150 seasonal workers and 109 working holiday makers over three years.’’

Seasonal workers who returned to the farm were on average 15 per cent more productive than new seasonal workers.

‘‘We found workers from the Seasonal Worker Program delivered higher productivity and less staff turnover, while working holiday makers could be accessed at short notice to meet urgent demand in peak periods,’’ Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

‘‘Seasonal workers also had an average work period of 22 weeks compared to working holiday makers’ five weeks.’’

However, the report found that working holiday makers were easier to access at short notice, although they tended to have shorter periods of employment and higher turnover, requiring more training.