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HRM Assignment: Challenges Encounter by Agriculture Sector in Australia


Task: Write a well-researched report on HRM assignment discussing the issues faced by agriculture sector in Australia.


As evident in the present context of HRM assignment, agriculture has been significant in the history of rise of Australia. Australia's conventional strength in wheat and sheep proceeds into the 21st century. As of late Australian farming has gotten progressively variegated. The impressive scopes of arable land have assisted Australia with turning into a main world exporter of grains, meats, and sheep. Just around 6% of Australia is useful for growing crops. Agribusiness contributes to approximately 3% of the GDP and utilizes around 4% of the absolute labor force straightforwardly (Masud et al., 2017, pp 698-706).

This report will critically analyse the challenges in this sector majorly incurred by the Human Resources. Particularly, retaining and attracting employees has been seen to be major challenge. This is followed by the issue of health and safety of employees and job satisfaction and feeling of being valued as concerns plaguing the sector. The report shall analyse the sector to find how employee friendly it is. Thereafter, it will also discuss the challenges before pandemic and possible post-pandemic around these three major identified challenges. This shall be followed with recommendations to counter them.

Industry Context
Australia has a diversified agricultural sector, creating a range of harvest items. The gross worth of agricultural, fisheries and forestry production has expanded to $67 billion by 2019–20. In agriculture itself, a long term dip in genuine costs has been counterbalanced by volume development, as makers have improved productivity by embracing new advancements and management practices.

Agricultural productivity rates have been comparatively more strong over the years than most different sectors of the Australian economy. This development has been driven by upgrades in innovation and structural change. Growth in productivity assumes a vital part in balancing the effects on farming benefits from a continuous decrease in yield costs comparative with input costs – known as farm terms of trade. Costs for Australian producers are set on worldwide business sectors, which mean Australian producers should create a globally aggressive item to be productive (Pretty, 2018, p. 6417). Keeping up productivity and technological advancement is consequently required if Australia is to remain universally competitive in this sector.

In past few decadeshowever, agricultural productivity growth has slowed down for reasons such asfluctuations in seasonal conditions and less impactful research and development efforts before pandemic.

Workforce Challenges before the Pandemic
Attraction and recruitment

The farming sector is in dire need of skilled workers and loyal employees who are willing to put in ample time and efforts to farms. Skill deficiencies in provincial and far off regions encroach on the competition within localities because of the absence of services and conveniences usually accessible. Numerous associations in such areas face difficulties in enlisting skilled work notwithstanding the proposal of a generously compensated, secure work; and this is especially obvious when a range of skillsets is hard to find. Attracting the youth to this sector as competent employees is another challenge altogether. Most of the people do not prefer agriculture as they see it as a hands-on job where lot of physical activity is required along with time to actually reap benefits of good crop. The youth prefer a job at desk which pays higher and better lifestyle. Hence getting hold of potential people to actually work and toil at farms is a big challenge. Thereafter is the issue of retaining employees. Even though Australian farming sector has seen major shift in structure, the competition is stiff. There are farms with ample use of technology and who want competent skilled labour and do not mind offering good compensation, so employee retention is a big challenge as well. So some areas have ample skillsets creating deficiency for the same in surrounding regions finding it hard to find the right people for the job.

So, what happens is this that there is an increased pressure on business and their existing workforce to meet the increased demands, hiring is no longer an option and then, there is market performance pressures. Employees face issues as they cannot meet their daily needs, medical requirements, financial needs and ultimately plan to leave the region, there is migration of labour (Chancellor & Zhao, 2021, pp. 14-30) . So, attracting and recruiting new employees to farms actually differs from region to region. In some areas it could be good and in other regions painful exercise.

Retention and development
Australia had encountered a long time of joblessness and a deficiency of skill related abilities in certain regions and incompetent work in others. Indeed, even with the approach of the worldwide fiscal emergency, joblessness in Australia has remained generally low with a pace of 5.4% in January 2013. Now and again of joblessness, even organizations in metropolitan regions battled to discover adequate laborers and thus, there is minimal motivator for laborers to move to remoter regions to get work. Inside regional communities,this is a regular situation that more young age group laborers go to relocate to urbandeveloping districts to acquire job, experience and gain skill, however;unless these people can be drawn in back to the area, there is a general crunch of human resources.

Ongoing labourproblems have fuelled the debate on how best to engage employees in theworkplace, with the ultimate goal of reducing labour turnover. wide range of factors that impact employee retention including job satisfaction, extrinsic rewards, attachment toco-workers, commitment to the organisation, organisational prestige,organisational fairness, flexible work practices and advancementopportunities. As can be observed, these are factors internal to any organisation, however; there are roles by both intrinsic and extrinsicthat play arole in attracting and retaining employees. The regional community and their activities also play a large role in keeping the labourers to the place and not allow labour drainage.

Workplace health and safety
Farming is perhaps the most risky enterprises to work in because of the blend of perils. These incorporate plant, synthetics, noise, dust, sun exposure, working with animals just as the reality that numerous in the business work alone or in distant areas. Somewhere in the range of 2010 and 2014, more than one in every five laborers who passed away, were busy working in farms. It has the most noteworthy casualty pace of any Australian industry (14.8 fatalities per 100,000 specialists). It utilizes a higher extent of more senior specialists than some other industry (16% are matured 65 and over). There are numerous dangers on farms that are more uncommon in different working environments, like drills, farm trucks, motorbikes, quad bikes, synthetic substances—pesticides, herbicides, composts and so on.

Farmworkers regularly work alone.
A portion of the tasks perilous to their wellbeing incorporate lifting substantial loads or working with hardware without help from anyone else, have less exposure for sharing good practices, noticing and gaining experience from others, help or emergency treatment isn't in every case close by if an episode happens and farms might be distant, without cell phone networks to call for help(Howe et al., 2019).

The most ideal approaches to ensure laborers are protected from hazards of health and safety is to build protocols to limit or remove hazards that may be harmful or can kill labourers. As much as is practically possible, the danger should be limited. There should be consistently, the most secure gear for the farms necessities and ensure it is well maintained.Also, the chemicals available and which must be used must be done by following the manufacturer’s instructions of handling them well. Ensuring all laborers and persons of interestare awareof the dangers on the homestead and know how to deal with these. Guarantee laborers have the right equipment to work securely, for instance when dealing with animals and utilizing farm hardware. Intently manage new and inexperienced laborers (Maru et al., 018, pp. 344- 353).

What are the workforce challenges for the sector undertaken in this HRM assignment during the pandemic?
The (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way people live and work. The agri-sector is vital for Australia's recuperation, monetary upliftment and food security. While the public authorities keep on working intimately with industry, different governments as well as communities through the Industry Engagement Team to ensure agri-industry stay solid. While the reserves of food has held up well to date, in numerous nations, the actions set up to contain the spread of the infection are beginning to upset the inventory of agro-food items to business sectors and customers, both inside and across borders.

The area is additionally encountering a considerable change in the structure and – for certain products – the degree of interest. How damaging could these effects end up being for food security, nourishment and the vocations of farmers, fishers and others working along the food production network will depend enormouslyon policy reactions over the short, medium and long term. For the time being, governments should deal with different requests – reacting to the healthcare emergency, dealing with the outcomes of the shocks of the pandemic to the economy, and guaranteeing the smooth working of the food network (Snow et al., 2021, p. 103025). While the pandemic represents some genuine difficulties for the food framework for the time being, it is additionally a chance to speed up changes in the food and agribusiness area to assemble its versatility notwithstanding a scope of difficulties, including environmental change.

Attraction and recruitment
According to Agriculture Minister Littleproud's declaration in March,’20, the central government delivered the subsequent stimulus to economy adding up to $66.1 billion to help agribusinesses, consolidating aggregate sum of administrative help to $189 billion. The bundle incorporates pay and rental help for organizations and money for affected laborers. Qualified SMEs will get up to $100,000 cash help to proceed with their activity as they recuperate from dry season, bushfires and COVID-19. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud declared Australia's farming, food creation and inventory network won't be affected by COVID-19 lockdowns to guarantee food creation and access. The following were exempted: a. feed, hay, compost and other horticulture items, veterinary and animal wellbeing/government assistance services, trucks and cargo servicestransporting food and produce and skilled workersessential to farming or essential ventures.

Retention and development
Coronavirus has affected the agrarian labor force, particularly the pool of occasional agricultural specialists. These are mostly laborers who are migrants, commonly utilized in the yield harvesting, who utilize profoundly handy and physical abilities. Lockdowns and limitations in the mobility of laborers across borders added to work deficiencies, primarily in regions that depend on part timers. Nonetheless, the capacity of an agrarian framework to utilise laborers that can travel between various working environments comprises an essential condition for its manageability. Shockingly, pandemic travel limitations significantly diminished the accessible labor force. Besides, no conviction exists that part timers might want to work in regions that have been affected largely by COVID-19. Moreover, it was noticed that numerous local laborers became sick or dealt with debilitated individuals from the family or youngsters, because of the shutdown of schools, further affecting the accessibility of occasional labourers (Dawson & McCalman, 2020). These outcomes have especially influenced vegetable and natural producers. Nonetheless, for numerous yields, the harvesting season is fixed and an inadequacy of work can bring about production deficiencies in the food market and more exorbitant costs, making markets much more unforeseeable.

Outline the challenges facing this industry retaining and developing a workforce during the pandemic. The government announced in March 2020 that in the next 6 months, it would spend about AUD130 billion to save six million jobs in country. This meant about AUD1500 twice a month so that employees stuck to their jobs. This would include full time as well as casual workers. This was just first of many stimuluses that were announced later and it was a relief to some extent for people in agriculture sector who were hit hard owing to the pandemic (Romer & Romer, 2021).

Workplace health and safety
Employers in agriculture sectors are ordered to give safe working conditions to their representatives and make a strategy to guarantee employee wellbeing and that social distancing prerequisites are met. All visa holders are needed to isolate for 14 days prior to working in a different district. The public authority is teaming up with states and territories on execution and assents supporting the workers’ self-isolation (Green et al., 2020, pp. 5-16).

Recommendations for HR in the post-pandemic period
The impact is undeniable, however; it is of utmost importance that the HR makes best efforts to understand the issues being faced by workers during the pandemic so that they could find ways to provide them the cushion that could make the working environment positive, make them feel valued. Since the curbs on agriculture sector are near zero, the challenges are almost same. Heightened measures need to be put in place by the organisation to ensure health and safety during pandemic times as it is known that closed spaces heightened the risks of contracting the virus.

HR could also launch new employment programmes to engage more and more domestic labourers instead of migrant labour. A common forum to bring unemployed people and interested to work in farms and vacancies in the organisations could be put in place; similar drives could be done in different local communities to increase awareness and employment. Certain changes in policies for employee retention by providing incentives for engagement might also be useful especially till the situation eases. Australian Government has proposed digitisation of farms. This along with various benefits also assists in better management of labour resources. Educating in recruitment drives about how these changes will bring in better employment and retention opportunities could make both recruitments and retention an attraction value to the potential human resource who could opt for the sector. With increase in blending of technology, definitely there would be diverse employment opportunities in this sector (Griffiths et al., 2021, pp. 1-8). Organisation should prepare and make necessary organisational changes during the pandemic as is permissible to prepare. For this, HR should include the farmers actively in discussions and decision making because the ultimate transformation cannot happen with a workforce who is not aware of the changes and how things could be made better. Specific training opportunities remotely or in a safe environment could upskill the workforce towards these new emerging technologies and maximise their potential.

As is it understood from the above discussion on HRM assignment that the actual effect that Covid 19 has on agricultural sector is still unclear as because ethe pandemic is ongoing. The previous to pandemic scenario in attracting and recruiting workers in agri-sector was a challenge owing to lack of lustre the new generation feels towards it as they perceive this as more of a hands-on sector where largely physical labour is involved and that it is meant for people who have no other option of employment. During pandemic, organisations had the safe net to include more of technology and blend the farming business with technology to get them out of the situation where there is lot of pressure being put on labour force. Before pandemic retention was an issue as tehre were certain regions giving good compensation stimulation labour migration, however, with limitations brought in by the pandemic, now the HR has the opportunity to formulate policies and encourage more and more regional employment, domestic employment so that there is no labour drainage. Health and safety of workers in the sector has always been a top priority but not without accidents. With pandemic and more stress on health and safety measures, HR should educate and inform the workforce of the changes in norms and ensure appropriate practices to reduce virus transmission and less of accidents at workplace too.

Reference list
Chancellor, W., & Zhao, S. (2021). Agricultural Households: An Exploratory Analysis Revisiting Financial Position and Well?being in Australia. HRM assignment Economic Papers: A journal of applied economics and policy, 40(1), 14-30.

Dawson, E., & McCalman, J. (2020). What Happens Next?: Reconstructing Australia after COVID-19. Melbourne Univ. Publishing.

Green, N., Tappin, D., & Bentley, T. (2020). Working from home before, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic: implications for workers and organisations. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations, 45(2), 5-16.

Griffiths, D., Sheehan, L., van Vreden, C., Petrie, D., Grant, G., Whiteford, P., ... & Collie, A. (2021). The Impact of Work Loss on Mental and Physical Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Baseline Findings from a Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 1-8.

Howe, J., Clibborn, S., Reilly, A., van den Broek, D., & Wright, C. F. (2019). Towards a durable future: Tackling labour challenges in the Australian horticulture industry. University of Adelaide and University of Sydney.

Masud, M. M., Azam, M. N., Mohiuddin, M., Banna, H., Akhtar, R., Alam, A. F., & Begum, H. (2017). Adaptation barriers and strategies towards climate change: Challenges in the agricultural sector. Journal of cleaner production, 156, 698-706.

Maru, Y. T., Sparrow, A., Butler, J. R., Banerjee, O., Ison, R., Hall, A., & Carberry, P. (2018). Towards appropriate mainstreaming of “Theory of Change” approaches into agricultural research for development: Challenges and opportunities. Agricultural systems, 165, 344-353.

Pretty, J. (2018). Intensification for redesigned and sustainable agricultural systems. Science, 362(6417).

Romer, C. D., & Romer, D. H. (2021). The fiscal policy response to the pandemic. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Snow, V., Rodriguez, D., Dynes, R., Kaye-Blake, W., Mallawaarachchi, T., Zydenbos, S., ... & Stevens, D. (2021). Resilience achieved via multiple compensating subsystems: The immediate impacts of COVID-19 control measures on the agri-food systems of Australia and New Zealand. Agricultural Systems, 187, 103025.

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