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Hospitality Industry says 457 changes will lead to extreme skills shortages

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    kitchen.pngSome of Australia's top restaurateurs are warning their businesses are being put at risk due to an extreme skills shortage in hospitality that is being exacerbated by the Federal Government's drastic changes to the 457 visa program.

    The changes, announced in April, will abolish the pathway to permanent residency for key roles including restaurant managers, bakers and cooks.

    The hospitality industry relies on foreign workers to fill certain roles

    Business owners have said that the changes mean a level of uncertainty that will jeopardise their plans for expansion — and ultimately impinge on the quality and diversity of the Australian dining scene.

    Celebrity chef Neil Perry has about 3,000 staff across dozens of restaurants, including Rockpool, Jade Temple and Rosetta in Sydney, about a third of whom are on some kind of temporary work or student visa.

    "[Workers on 457 visas] are super important for the restaurant industry because there are skills we need to bring in, both back- and front-of-house, in cooking, service [and] sommeliers," he said.

    He said he had always sought to employ Australian staff in those positions, but it was not always possible to find the right skillset.

    "It means we have to reflect on [any possible] expansion — can we or can't we. [With the] labour market saying [it] can't supply any more, we have to rethink what we're planning to do."

    Nino Zoccali, who runs Italian restaurant Pendolino in central Sydney, said the mood in the industry since the announcement had been dire.

    "Everybody is talking about key staff leaving and not wanting to stay because of the changes to the rules."

    He said 70 per cent of his front-of-house managers were on a 457 visa.

    Full article at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-13/upmarket-restaurateurs-scrapping-457-will-hurt-food-industry/8893970



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    It begs the question though, how much are these businesses spending on training staff into taking these positions. It is a bit like the trucking companies in the UK who have complained about staff shortages and how BREXIT will make life hard for them to find drivers. Yet there isn't a single truck company in the UK that trains drivers! In Australia at the moment, one third of young people either cant find full time work or are unemployed. Yet we have business effectively saying we need to bring in thousands of people. Well, no they don't. They need to start training people. The rules need to state that for every 457 a business has, they need to train a young person as that was the original thinking behind the 457. A temporary visa to be a temporary crutch to cover a shortage while a local person can be trained to do the job

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    There was a post yesterday suggesting it will be hard to find CEOs without 457s. In my sector it was common to import CEOs and use Australia as a training ground for overseas talent. The logic being it's  a small market so it doesn't matter if they screw it up. I know plenty of Aussies who were fed up with this and would have loved the job themselves, they will be delighted with the restrictions. 

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    I deal with many hospitality businesses and most of them spend much more than than the minimum requirement on training of staff, but still can't fill shortages with local staff. Most can't even fill vacant apprentice positions as there are simply too few young Australians wanting to take up apprenticeships.

    Many Australians do not look at hospitality as a long term career, but rather something to do while studying before they move on to something else. This is very different in other countries where even the position of waiter is seen as a career.  

    Publicity is always given to those who exploit the system. Little to no attention is given to the businesses who use the 457 program properly, to supplement their workforce to expand the business and create more job opportunities.

    I personally know of business owners who have shelved plans to open new venues as they simply can not staff new venues with properly experienced staff. I even know of one person with decades of international experience owning restaurants who has recently sold up as it has just gotten too hard.

    The hospitality industry has grown immensely in Australia and as a result there are well documented labour shortages in the sector. These shortages have been reported by many independent sources including the Government's own Department of Employment.

    A quote from the Restaurant and Catering association CEO which highlights the issue "We used to say we would hire anyone upright with a pulse, now we are just happy for anyone with a pulse.” See an interesting article here.

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    Raul T Senise MARN 0636699


    "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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