Australian recruitment drive certain to attract young Irish farmers

YOUNG farmers will be among the thousands of Irish people drawn to an Australian recruitment drive in Dublin this week.

Multi-skilled farmers will be among those keenly interested in the public seminar being hosted by Western Australia’s Training and Workforce Minister Peter Collier in Dublin’s City West Hotel at 5.30pm on Thursday.

Munster Macra na Feirme vice-president Tommy Moyles said: “My sister is in Australia, working as a veterinary nurse. My brother went out there as an electrician, then ended up in a cattle station in Queensland, where he has learned a lot of new techniques.

“People have always gone to Australia, but the numbers are increasing now due to a lack of demand for trades on the farm in rural Ireland. People are trying to look on the positive side, and are going out to Australia to learn new skills in the hope of bringing those skills back home eventually.

“I am 30 now, but I didn’t get the Installation Aid Scheme when it was around. I would also say that about 20%-30% more people would stay in Ireland if there was an Early Retirement Scheme to incentivise succession on the farm here.”

Farmers may well find they have the skill levels required for vacancies such as diesel motor mechanics, welders, carpenters, joiners and fitters all in short supply. Certainly, many farmers have added many off-farm skills to their CVs during Ireland’s boom years.

Australian Workforce Minister Peter Collier said: “The door’s open. Western Australia will need up to 150,000 additional workers by 2017 and that’s a modest estimation. Irish immigrants have been trending upwards, certainly, in the evidence that’s being presented to me by the department, that’s a very good potential pull for further migrants, particularly from Ireland.”

The 150,000 workers Western Australia expects to welcome between now and 2017 will range from construction trades to engineers, to nurses and to IT professionals. Perth is the largest city in the region, which is home to 1.5 million people. is one of the Irish companies that will help organise the move to Australia. At present, the demand for skilled Irish people in Western Australia is huge, according to Visafirst marketing manager Edwina Shanahan.

She said: “A lot of young Irish people head to Western Australia, where they start with driving jobs. Anyone who has driven on farm machinery would spin a car on a sixpence for you, and the Australian employers are very aware of that.

“They also tend to start in bricklaying, painting and decorating. If you have worked in a trade in Ireland for four or five years, you can bring some reference detailing that work and get formal accreditation for that learning by doing a short practical test when you get out there. That is with TAFFE, the Australian equivalent of FÁS.”

In due course, Agri-food will be a growth employment area in Australia, which has a key role to play in feeding Asia’s increasingly affluent citizenship. Rising incomes and economic growth in emerging markets including China and India are driving demand for farm products and pushing food prices higher.

Last year, Kerry Group purchased the Australia operations of food ingredients and flavours group General Mills for a reported price of around €20m.

Aryzta (IAWS) has also considerable baked goods interests in Australia. The Irish Dairy Board has major export ambitions for Irish powdered dairy products in the region.

Food companies in China and India are already looking to acquire Australian grain assets to ensure future food security, according to a report in the Australian Farm Institute (AFI).

Asian food companies have been investing heavily in Australia.

nThe free seminars take place in Dublin’s Citywest Hotel on Thursday from 5.30pm. For more, visit: or email:

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