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Skills list changes could increase hospitality shortage
Old 17th February 2010, 12:36 AM   #1
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Default Skills list changes could increase hospitality shortage

15 February 2010 | by Rosemary Ryan

The Australian hospitality industry has warned that changes the list of skills in demand as part of the Federal Government’s skilled migration program could leave large gaps in service provision in Australia in the sector.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced the replacement of the long standing skilled occupations list—of occupations in demand—with a another list of what it says have been identified as priority occupations for overseas workers.

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive officer, John Hart, the new list is of highly qualified jobs which are “attractive to the Government, but not necessarily in shortage”.

Hart said the previous lists, the Skilled Occupations List and the Migration Occupations in Demand List, were of occupations in shortage. He said this shortage could be objectively determined and did not discriminate between jobs that were of ‘value’ or not.

Restaurant & Catering Australia president, Peter Doyle, said there had been a shortage of cooks in Australia for more than fifty years.

“Australia has had a shortage of cooks since the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956,” Doyle said. “The industry has grown at such a rapid rate that the supply of cooks in Australia has never been able to be filled. The supply of overseas students studying cookery is very important to filling the demand.”

Training and recruitment company Hostec International said the Australian tourism and hospitality sectors should prepare for shortages in skilled vocational labour as part of the review of which occupations receive preference for immigration.

With the current list abolished and a new SOL not due to be unveiled by Skills Australia until late April, it remains unclear if occupations relied on by the hospitality industry—such as culinary vocations—will be deemed priorities, said Hostec managing director Raman Nambiar.

Nambiar said Australian operators should prepare themselves now for a shortfall in the event that hospitality is not included on the revised SOL.

“There is a good argument to suggest culinary positions, for example, will be given priority. Take the most recent Clarius Skills Index released by Clarius Group last month; chefs were listed as the occupation with the highest levels of skills shortages for the last three consecutive quarters.

“That said, our industry should prepare for more favour being shown to other higher level occupations. If that happens, chief among our problems will be the lack of Australian workers willing to take these front line jobs, and a visa system that doesn’t support small businesses—which makes up the bulk of the hospitality industry—sponsoring skilled immigrants for entry-level hospitality positions.

“Hospitality apprenticeship enrolments for domestic students have been steadily declining year on year. The hospitality sector has come to rely on the increasing number of international graduates to fill entry-level positions; if anything, that need is going to grow in 2010 as consumer sentiment continues to improve.

“If culinary vocations are not included on the revised SOL, other policy measures will need to be considered to make up the labour shortfall. These include increasing Government funding for domestic apprenticeships; the introduction of immigration-supported international apprenticeships; and reassessment of the visa system to make it more viable for hospitality operators to sponsor expat workers. None of these could be considered a quick fix.”


An interesting point of view by the hospitality industry!! (bolding in the article added by MH)
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