Hard work scares off rural workers

27 Jul, 2005 08:45 PM

RURAL WA was having trouble attracting workers because people no longer wanted to do hard work.

That's according to Opposition spokesman for regional development Nigel Hallett, who said a change had occurred over the past few decades, with people not wanting to do difficult work.

"I'm not having shots at the younger ones," he said.

But as well as an unwillingness to do hard work, Mr Hallett said the country was not attracting the younger generations because it was not seen as exciting as the city.

He said people had developed an inability to entertain themselves.

"In my days we worked hard and played equally as hard.

"There has to be a firm conscious campaign to take the image of the country and present what it has to offer, not what it hasn't."

Push the positives and squash the negatives.

Mr Hallett said that as well as a public campaign to boost rural WA's profile, the government also needed to take money from the city and put it into the country, to help develop good job opportunities as well as a skilled rural workforce.

"The country returns a huge overall income and jobs to the whole of WA," he said.

There was a need to create a positive impression of the rural workforce to the wider community; that the job had value - like building the reputation of the apprenticeship compared to a university degree.

"Let's change the focus," Mr Hallett said.

Positive campaigns needed to be used to change the perception.

"The long term future is being a farm employee."

Mr Hallett said a good farm manager could receive $75,000-$80,000 plus housing and fringe benefits.

The country was a good place to live because of its broadness.

He said WA needed to look at making a complete campaign.

"Instead of the tourism campaign focusing on coming to WA to have a good time, it should be about coming to WA to have a good time, but also look at the job opportunities."

Mr Hallett said there were plenty of jobs available in rural WA, but there needed to be a push to attract the right workforce.

"The problems are the lower rate of pay and the lack of consistency (by employers)," he said.

"Farmers are happy to put someone off after a few days and sometimes workers are lucky to average three days a week, like in the vineyards."

Mr Hallett said there needed to be more full-time jobs so workers had a guarantee of consistency.

"There's not a lot you can do but look after the labour you've got and not let it be poached."


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