International backpackers' experiences of precarious visa-contingent farmwork

Kossen, Chris and McDonald, Nicole and McIlveen, Peter ORCID: (2021) International backpackers' experiences of precarious visa-contingent farmwork. Career Development International, 26 (7). pp. 869-887. ISSN 1362-0436


Purpose: Australia's agricultural industry has become highly dependent on young low-cost, overseas 'working holiday' visa workers known as 'backpackers', who are notoriously subject to exploitative workplace practices. This study aimed to explore backpackers' experiences in terms of how job demands, job resources and personal resources influence their appraisals of working in agriculture. Design/methodology/approach: In-depth semi-structured interviews were used to explore the work experiences of N = 21 backpackers employed under the Australian Working Holiday visa (subclass 417). Data were analyzed by thematic analysis and organized in terms of job demands and resources. Findings: This study revealed job demands commonly experienced by agricultural backpacker workers (e.g. precarity, physically strenuous work, low pay), and job resources (e.g. adequate training, feedback) and personal resources (e.g. attitude, language) that buffer the demands. The findings indicate that backpackers' appraisals of their experiences and performance decline when demands outweigh resources. Originality/value: This study offers an emic perspective on the work of an understudied segment of the agricultural workforce. The findings have implications for improving work practices and policies aimed at attracting and retaining this important labor source in the future.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2021 03:20
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2022 05:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: agriculture, farmworker, backpacker, visa, job demands-resources, precarious work
Fields of Research (2008): 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170107 Industrial and Organisational Psychology
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130213 Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520104 Industrial and organisational psychology (incl. human factors)
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390308 Technical, further and workplace education
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300208 Farm management, rural management and agribusiness
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939908 Workforce Transition and Employment
B Economic Development > 82 Plant Production and Plant Primary Products > 8206 Harvesting and Packing of Plant Products > 820699 Harvesting and Packing of Plant Products not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 26 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 2604 Harvesting and packaging of plant products > 260499 Harvesting and packaging of plant products not elsewhere classified
16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1602 Schools and learning environments > 160206 Workforce transition and employment
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