New trial involves overseas workers

LABOUR shortages in the sugar industry may soon be solved.

The Federal Government has announced a small-scale, three-year trial to help ease the crisis.

Workers from countries such as East Timor, Tonga and Papua New Guinea will participate.

Canegrowers chief executive officer Steve Greenwood said the trial would start at the beginning of July next year.

"The sugarcane industry relies upon a workforce with a unique set of skills and abilities," Mr Greenwood said.

"Increased area under cane is good for the Australian economy.

"But make no mistake, this needs to be matched by labour to get the crop off - it will not benefit anyone if it's left in the paddock."

"The world's rapidly growing population is driving sugar prices higher and Australia is looking to play a role in filling that demand."

Mr Greenwood said Canegrowers would keep working with the Federal Government to work out the details and said that most regional areas were also struggling with high unemployment rates.

"Canegrowers is gearing up its campaign on workforce retention and re-skilling in preparation for the forthcoming State Government election," he said.

"The industry needs a serious commitment made to the development of an industry-specific workforce attraction, retention and skilling initiative."

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