Q&A with Peter Angel of Harvest LabourApril 28th, 2015 | | industry
The Harvest Trail’s (operated by not-for-profit company MADEC) biggest challenge is to ensure that the service remains relevant and useful to both the farm employers, who are seeking workers, and to the young travellers looking for seasonal work.
As the Harvest Trail website and call centre are scrutinised by the government, dodgy operators, scams and illegal operations are far less likely to impact on working backpackers. When something does slip through the net, we are easily contactable, willing to investigate, and usually able to resolve the issue quickly.
2. What do you see as the inbound youth industry’s greatest challenges?
For young international travellers who come in on the Working Holidaymaker Visa, the availability of jobs for them is crucial. Those wanting to earn the second year visa sometimes struggle to find suitable positions. Unfortunately many leave it too late. If these young people return home after one year, they may possibly ‘bad-mouth’ their Australian experience to friends & family and paint a negative picture for future potential visitors.
We need to ensure backpackers have enough information as they arrive (or earlier) about independent transport/accommodation, to seek work early in their stay, to be prepared to travel to the less desirable areas for a period of time, and to make themselves valuable to their employers with a good work ethic.
Scams, rip-offs and dodgy operators take various forms and are becoming more prevalent and more criminal in nature. From a hostel simply overstating the availability of work, to a fee-for-service website advertisement of a job/transport/accommodation that simply does not exist – every time a backpacker is victim to one of these, the tourism industry suffers.
3. Do you have any new products/services in development or soon to launch?
The first of July will see the new five year Harvest Trail contract implemented. There will be changes in the way the free Harvest Trail service is delivered, possibly in the manner in which information is disseminated. Watch this space.
4. Over the past 5 years have you seen a change in the nationalities and ages and how has your marketing mix changed to adapt to these?
As the numbers of Working Holiday Makers have increased, especially those seeking the second year visa, the balance has tipped to an excess of people available for unskilled seasonal work in the horticulture sector. This has meant backpackers are competing against each other for the limited number of jobs that qualify for the second year. Those that are proactive will always have the edge over those that are not.
Social media is playing a much larger role in the Harvest Trail marketing. Facebook in particular is an immediate and direct method of disseminating information about jobs.
Enquiries to the National Harvest Trail call centre on 1800 062 332 are still the best way to refer workers directly to jobs. A person to speak to directly is still worth much more than any number of posts, tweets and pics!