Special addition: chefs join skilled occupation list

10 June, 2014

The inclusion of Chefs on the Skilled Occupation List is a positive step on the way to addressing labour shortages gripping the tourism and hospitality sector, according to peak industry association Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA).

Adding Chefs to the Skilled Occupation List recognises independent skilled migrants are required to meet the medium and long term skill needs of the Australian economy.

R&CA CEO John Hart says the announcement has come at a critical time for the sector.

"Australia's tourism and hospitality sector is Australia's largest export services sector, contributing $128 billion to the economy each year. Yet growth of this sector has been stifled by an inability to find suitable staff at a local level.

"The sector is already experiencing a shortfall of 35,800 jobs, with this number expected to increase to 56,000 by 2015. Additionally, employment in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services is projected to grow by more than 42,000 jobs or 8.1 per cent to November 2017. The rate of employment growth in this sector is expected to be higher than any other sector in the Australian economy," said Hart.

Skilled migration and economic growth

Hart said the announcement is recognition that skilled migration in the tourism and hospitality industry is necessary for the economic growth of the country.

"R&CA has long advocated for the return of Cooks and Chefs to the Skilled Occupation List. The removal of these professions from the Skilled Occupation List has significantly hampered the productivity of the sector.

"Kitchenhands, waiters, café and restaurant managers and chefs are the most in-demand occupations in the sector and will continue to be well beyond 2015.

"R&CA's 2014 Benchmarking Survey found that 60.8 per cent of businesses currently have vacancies with 22.3 per cent indicating they were having extreme difficulty finding staff. Chefs, Cooks and Restaurant Managers ranked as the most difficult vacancies to fill.

"The inclusion of Chefs on the Skilled Occupation List is a positive first step in assisting the growth of Australia's largest services export sector," said Hart.

However, 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.  

"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."