Outcry at impending industry skills crisis

Shortage of skilled staff, international guests, and JobKeeper... Thanks, COVID!

The accommodation sector’s skill crisis is an ongoing and impending situation that can only get worse with the end of JobKeeper looming…

This was the main focus of discussion dominating the first Tourism Accommodation Australia national board meeting for 2021.

The high-level meeting where more than a dozen industry leaders gathered in person and via zoom, met at the new TAA headquarters in Castlereagh St, Sydney, this week.

TAA CEO Michael Johnson said a range of many issues were discussed that included the continuing merger talks with the Accommodation Association, the impacts of COVID on the sector, and of course the skills shortage.

He said:

To put it simply, everyone has lost employees who have returned to their home countries due to COVID – there is a real need for front-line staff and chefs in particular.

“We already had a skills shortage in regional areas before the pandemic hit – COVID has only made a bad situation worse. There are currently only about 35,000 Working Holiday Makers in Australia – well down from the usual average of 140,000.

Combined with the lack of international students, it is really having a major impact on our required labour force and TAA will continue to work with Government on these fronts.

The soon-to-be end of JobKeeper payments was another major topic discussed.

Mr Johnson explained: “TAA has been briefing Treasury regularly on the crisis impacting our sector – and have been making the case for targeted assistance packages aimed at struggling CBD hotels in particular.

“While some regional tourism areas are flourishing, occupancy rates in Sydney’s CBD are not even at the 35 percent mark – and that figure will not improve for some time given the lack of international tourism.”

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