With our plans for farm expansion at the new Guthalungra site, we will have a dramatic increase in our requirement for employees. We currently have 40 full-time employees, which grows to up to 100 with seasonal employees during the harvest season. The new farm will require around 100 full-time employees and similar number of seasonal employees.
We have found that our best employee retention rates are generally with people who are from the district, who have family and friends here and who want to build a life here.
For those that are interested there is the potential to study marine biology and/or aquaculture at the nearby James Cook University in Townsville, knowing there are career options locally once they have completed their studies. Graduates from the University will be very important in providing an on-going supply of technical staff as our business expands.
We have begun a program recruiting current students and graduates from James Cook University for our future management needs. Students currently studying are able to work weekend shifts to gain both part-time income whist studying and to gain valuable on-the-job training. Graduates have been recruited with the intention of providing a rounded experience in various sectors of the business with a view to filling future middle and senior management roles as the business grows.
We view ongoing training as critical part of our workforce development plan. Over the last 3 years we have arranged for external training for existing employees in various fields such as aquaculture, environmental management, food safety, HACCP, workplace health and safety, and management. This has included fully accredited certificate 3 through to diploma training. We have recently received federal government (Industry Skills Fund-Growth Stream) assistance to provide leadership and management training via Rural Training nitiatives to 14 of our current managers, in preparation for the new roles they will be required to fill as the business expands.
Our requirement for seasonal workers fits in well with the local sugarcane industry with our harvest season commencing in December and finishing in May, and the cane crushing commencing in June and finishing in November. This provides an important year-round income to otherwise unemployed people for 6 months of the year.
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