Agriculture & Manual Labor Jobs in Europe
It has been the quintessential travel dream in North America for decades. Finish school, take a year off, and bum around Europe working at random seasonal jobs like picking fruit or working on a farm. But let?s face it; because of the new EU employment policies and the recent inclusion of East European countries into the EU, those dreams of simple manual jobs for North Americans are mostly a thing of the past.
The problem is that many East European migrant workers are willing to work for much less than you are, and they don’t need a visa to do it.
There are still jobs to be had if you are willing to be paid under the table and if you are willing to work for quite a bit less than you would like. Fruit and grape picking, particularly in France, Spain, and Portugal, helping with harvests in Germany, England, and Ireland, and seasonal maintenance/cleaning staff in high season at resorts or with farms. A website called Picking Jobs does provide current fruit picking opportunities in Europe. There is also information about UK seasonal agricultural jobs at the SAWS website but this seems to be geared mostly towards East Europeans.
A better way to get agricultural of work is to sign up to volunteer at a work farm. While this also does not pay well since it is considered volunteer work, it will provide room and board with maybe a small supplement for your time on the farm. You have the chance to meet local people as well as other travelers. One of the biggest organizations that provides information on these kinds of placements is WWOOF. These organizations can also help you with any visa requirements you may need.
While it helps to have a bit of farm or agricultural experience, it is really not expected or needed. If you actually do have specific agricultural experience, it may be possible to immigrate under one of the highly skilled immigrant programs that most countries have.
If you do end up going the work farm route to get an agricultural job in Europe, you will find it to be quite a different experience than working on a farm in North America. The biggest reason for this is that a work farm is just as much about cultural exchange as it is about manual labor.
Be prepared to share stories of your country with your coworkers and enjoy stories of theirs.
Apart from the simple difficulty in finding this kind of work as a North American competing against Europeans in the job market, there is the simple fact that work like fruit picking or farming is hard, physical work, with extremely long hours of work each day. But if you can handle those difficulties, there is certainly something to be said for enjoying the countryside and scenery of a completely new country. If you are the outdoors type, this is the type of job to get to truly appreciate the natural differences of your adopted home.