Is Fruit Picking the New ‘Schoolies’?

By Hari Yellina
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According to professional chef and fourth-generation farmer Matt Moran, teenagers yearning to spread their wings after the lockdown may be the answer to Australia’s struggling farming and hospitality industries. In a post-pandemic world, rural businesses are unable to produce food or serve clients because they just don’t have the workforce, he claims. When COVID hit, many of Moran’s own employees, including one who had served for him for a decade, were forced to return to their home countries since their visas did not allow them to participate in JobKeeper.

It’s absolutely sad for a farmer to work so hard to develop something, to nurture something, and then see it rot on the ground.  Moran spoke to AAP from his Central Tablelands property in NSW. Moreover, farmers are severely understaffed across the board in practically every one of the enterprises, and they are being told that they cannot open because there aren’t enough employees. Meanwhile, during the last 18 months, Australian teenagers have had to adjust to a restricted, home-centric lifestyle, losing out on typical rites of passage such as finals and formals, footy, and festivals.

Meanwhile, during the last 18 months, Australian teenagers have had to adjust to a constrained, home-centric lifestyle, losing out on typical rites of passage such as finals and formals, footy, and festivals. As restrictions are lifted, borders are reopened, and life returns to normal, it’s no surprise that many young Australians are eager to regain part of their yet-to-be-misspent youth. Vanessa leaped at the option to participate in a GAP (Go-And-Pour or Go-And-Pick) year scheme, where she would receive training for free and an employment services in rural or regional Australia, after the interminable lockdowns.

Thankful4Farmers and Training Services NSW are partnering to link young Australians wanting for adventure with jobs as fruit and vegetable pickers, as well as roles in hospitality and retail, to help save those ailing industries. Vanessa, who aspires to gain work experience currently studies radiography at university. She said, “The experience of going out gathering fruit and pouring for individuals I wouldn’t ordinarily see in regular life is incredibly fascinating to me.”

After the lengthy lockdowns, Vanessa jumped at the chance to engage in a GAP (Go-And-Pour or Go-And-Pick) year scheme, where she would enjoy free training and employment assistance in rural or regional Australia. Thankful4Farmers and Training Services NSW have teamed up to connect young Australians looking for adventures with jobs as fruit and vegetable pickers, as well as hospitality and retail positions, in order to sustain those struggling industries. Vanessa is a university student studying radiography with the goal of gaining job experience. “The experience of going out and gathering fruit and pouring for people I wouldn’t normally see in everyday life is really exciting to me,” she explained.


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