The Tourism and Hospitality Skills Shortage & The Australian Labour Force Report | TSS Recruitment

The Tourism and Hospitality Skills Shortage & The Australian Labour Force Report

  • Maryke Wylde

Australia’s hospitality industry is experiencing a skills shortage. This has been widely reported in the media. It is harder than ever to find and recruit quality employees who meet the skill requirement for their position, fit in with the kitchen team and the culture of the venue and will stay for the long term.

Released last week, the Australian Labour Force Report 2015 to 2020 showed that 71% of businesses in the cafe and restaurant sector reported recruitment deficiencies. The report also found that in order to meet the needs of the growing industry, Australia’s tourism and hospitality sector will require an additional 123,000 workers by 2020.

Factors in the skills shortages include:

Australia is undergoing a rapid period of hotel development with over 70 hotels and some 10,000 rooms under construction or in the later stages of planning.

Restaurant & Catering Australia’s CEO, John Hart, recently commented on just how tough recruitment is in foodservice today. “The sector is currently experiencing a shortfall of 56,000 workers. Employment growth in the cafe, restaurant and take away food services sector will require an additional 43,700 jobs by November 2018. The rate of employment growth in this sector is expected to be higher than any other sector in the Australian economy, growing at around 8.5 percent,” he said.

“R&CA’s 2015 Benchmarking Survey found that 58.9 percent of businesses currently have vacancies with 24.6 percent indicating they were having extreme difficulty finding staff. Chefs, Cooks and Restaurant Managers ranked as the most difficult vacancies to fill.”

Inbound travel is also estimated to grow by 6% annually from 2015-2020 with the number of international visitors growing from the current 7.2 million to over 10 million by 2023-2024.

How can this be addressed in your business?

1. The Australian Government has put together a guide to developing tourism employment plans

(Guide available here)

Through Tourism Employment Plans, regions are developing solutions to address their labour and skills issues and making better use of existing Government initiatives. The first pilot Plans have already been delivered in Broome and the Red Centre, with plans for Sydney, Mornington Peninsula/Phillip Island, Tropical North Queensland, Kangaroo Island, Regional Tasmania and Canberra to follow. The site is here.

2. Up skill and motivate existing staff members

Ensuring that your existing team stays with you is one of the best ways to manage the skills shortage. Keeping them motivated and rewarded with opportunities to continue learning are good strategies for a cohesive, productive team.

3. Consider overseas staff

In July 2015, The Australian Government signed off on a major agreement with industry body Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) to streamline the visa process for 457 workers. The development of the Restaurant (Fine Dining) Industry Labour Agreement will help to address chronic labour shortages for some businesses in the industry. Under the new Restaurant (Fine Dining) Industry Labour Agreement, employers will be able to make use of skilled migrant workers (chefs, cooks and trade waiters) by meeting a strict set of criteria. Business will have to meet obligations such as having uniformed staff and maître d’, an a la carte menu, and award programs recognition before they can access overseas labour via the 457 system.

The agreement also outlines the qualifications and English language skills necessary to qualify, and includes a 10% decrease in the temporary skilled migration income threshold.

“This moderate concession means it will be more feasible for operators to hire overseas workers, should they be able to demonstrate they have experienced prolonged vacancies in their businesses,” Restaurant & Catering Australia’s CEO, John Hart said.

Further to this, Chefs were last year added to the Skilled Occupation List – here - , meaning foreign workers in the industry can apply for a permanent visa without a sponsor. Mr Hart says the benefits of skilled migration extend much further than just filling job vacancies.

“Skilled migration has contributed to the evolution and fusion of cuisine types here in Australia. With migration comes innovation and new ways of thinking about food and the restaurant experience.

“With skilled migration also comes job creation for local Australians. The reality is most businesses find it difficult to remain open when they cannot find suitably trained staff. The facilitation of a small number of skilled workers under this agreement will ensure businesses remain open, are productive, and have the capacity to hire and train local workers.

“The more we embrace skilled migration and blend the experience of these workers with that of our local workforce, I have no doubt our sector will continue to go from strength to strength,” Mr Hart says.

TSS Recruitment has been operating in this field for over a decade. We can guide you through the process of hiring an offshore candidate should this be an option you are considering. Contact us on 1300 877 466 to discuss your specific requirements.