Skills shortages likely in Australian hospitality industry


ustralia, February 16: Australian hospitality sector is heading towards an imminent skills shortage following recent changes in the Australian skilled migration program.

The officials of the hospitality industry in Australia feel the country is heading for a severe skills shortage when the new skilled occupations list is announced. The new list of priority occupations for international workers will replace the earlier list of skilled occupations in high demand, said Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Many professionals in the hospitality industry in Australia feel that the previous lists, namely the Migration Occupations in Demand List and the Skilled Occupations List, were in accordance with the occupations in shortage in the country. But, the new list includes occupations which are not necessarily in shortage although they are highly qualified occupations, said John Hart, a Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive officer.

Moreover, the earlier skilled occupations lists did not, in any way, made discrimination between an occupation being of ‘value’ or not.
Australia has been facing an acute shortage of cooks since the year 1956 when Melbourne hosted Olympic Games. While the hospitality industry of Australia had been developing at a high rate, the shortage of cooks has continued to remain in the industry, cautioned Peter Doyle, president of Restaurant and Catering Australia.

Hence, Australia desperately needs overseas students to fill the gap between high demand and less supply of required cooks by allowing them study cookery in the country, added Doyle.

If hospitality is not included in the revised SOL(Skilled Occupations List) to be announced in late April, then the industry must gear up for an approaching shortfall in the supply of required skilled vocational labor, stated Raman Nambiar, managing director of Hostec
International, a Training and recruitment company in Australia.

Australia has been witnessing a significant decline in the number of domestic students seeking enrolments in the hospitality apprenticeship each year. Hence, the main source of work force for the Australian hospitality industry has been the international
professionals with requisite skills in the hospitality sector. The demand for such professionals is likely to multiply in the year 2010.

So, to make up for imminent labor shortfall in case culinary vocations are excluded from the revised SOL, government needs to increase funding for domestic apprenticeships, reassessment of visa system to make it more suitable for hospitality industry and introducing international apprenticeships that are immigration-supported.