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OZ to import Asian workers as aged farmers set to retire in next decade

Canberra, Mon, 16 Apr 2012 ANI

Canberra, April 16 (ANI): Australia will have to import Asian workers, as the nation's farmers are about to retire in the next decade. The import of workers could lead to the draining of knowledge from Asian countries.

A new report by KPMG submitted to Australia in the Asian Century White Paper has warned that the average age of Australian farmers was 56 in 2011 and many had no succession plans or exit strategy.

According to the Courier Mail, the predictions are supported by statistics gathered in 2008 when demand for labour in the agriculture sector was 407,000 workers, already 116,000 above supply.

There will be a considerable risk that there will be a lack of experienced farmers to train young farmers, the report says.

The report suggests that Asia will be an important contributor in bridging the skills gap.

It said that Australia would need to develop its immigration policies with Asian countries to bridge this shortage, emphasizing a need for the government to revise its migration policy in collaboration with industry and engagement with Asian investors for cooperation.

The predicted sweeping demographic change threatens Australia's ability to produce food and capitalise on the opportunities with the Asian market, the report warns.

The report suggests training programs such as the National Workforce Development Fund will only provide a short-term solution.

Sid Sidebottom, parliamentary secretary for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, said that the government was working very closely with industry, the National Farmers Federation and with education providers. (ANI)

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