THE digital age has helped to advance the agricultural industry in countless ways, with drones, apps and software technology all making farming life easier.
Extend Oz is a welcome advancement for regional employment, with a website that simplifies hiring seasonal and full-time workers.
“Extend Oz is a new digital employment service, connecting ethical regional employers with job seekers across Australia,” creator Adam Cole said.
Originally from rural England, he moved to Australia in 2016 after travelling here and saw an opportunity for an employment service in rural areas.
“Extend Oz was founded through personal experience when I first travelled around Australia,” he said.
“Throughout my trip I would hear multiple backpackers asking the same question, where can I find farm work?”
Mr Cole said most job seekers relied on Facebook and Gumtree job posts that provided very little information about the employer and the working conditions.
With Extend Oz, employers simply sign up to the online platform to advertise their available positions, removing all the stress and hassle often associated with normal employment agencies.
Job seekers can then apply for and accept these roles via the website.
The Extend Oz team takes care of all the recruitment and onboarding requirements for the employer, including contract management, full onboarding services and even payroll.
The service also allows for ratings to be left by both parties to ensure transparency.
“After studying law at university, I began working within the employment services where I saw many opportunities for reform,” Mr Cole said.
Part of his inspiration for Extend Oz came from the experiences of his uncle, Murray Chapman, who is a pastoralist based in regional WA.
“My uncle owns a large cattle farm and always hires backpackers to help with his busy season,” he said.
He doesn’t want the hassle of sourcing, vetting, checking visas, collecting bank information, tax file numbers and pay rolling his new worker,” he said.
Extend Oz was formed after he decided there must be a way to streamline employment.
“It’s widely understood that backpacker employment in regional Australia is a niche industry in need of serious change,” Mr Cole said.
Outdated recruitment and business practices, along with high costs are holding back the process, he said.
“This prompted me to look into how the recruitment process can become more efficient through the use of technology,” he said.
Extend Oz was an opportunity to create a leaner, better model that will lead to safer, high quality roles for backpackers and reliable quality workers for regional employers at a fraction of the cost of traditional agencies.
Backpackers are not charged for the service and they also receive training pre-employment, making the transition into Australian farming work much easier.
The Extend Oz website launched in early 2018 and already has 300 job seekers registered and looking for regional work.
After successfully completing a pilot launch with farms in WA, Extend Oz are now seeking more employers to work with.
Mr Cole said he always had a passion for entrepreneurship since his teenage years and he felt very lucky to have partnered with the right people to make Extend Oz a reality.