IndustryNew ZealandNews In Brief

New Zealand’s skills shortage at crisis point

Without migrant workers hospitality is suffering

Staff shortages are causing problems in the hospitality sector across the Tasman but here it is even worse, Hospitality New Zealand claims the shortage of skilled workers in the New Zealand industry is at “crisis level”. 

Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive Julie White said difficulties finding staff is severely hampering the industry’s recovery, and extending working holiday visas by six months, while “a welcome move” would not solve the severe shortage of skilled workers.

Ms White said: “We welcome (the) announcement by the Government that it’s extending by six months Working Holiday visas and Supplementary Seasonal Employment work visas, and could extend them further, but that won’t be enough by itself.

“Skills shortages are the industry’s major stressor right now, and we’re finding ourselves at what can only be described as a crisis level. 

“Businesses need their existing essential workers to stay, so this is a positive move that will help the sector get back on its feet for now, but for the longer term they need skilled workers and the only way to do that is to bring them in as the borders open.

“The industry is working hard on finding long-term solutions via specialised industry-led training programs.

“We need something now that’s going to give businesses the skills they need to operate now, and migrants are the answer.

“Before COVID, these people filled a critical gap, but access to them has been turned off while the borders have been closed.

“You can’t just turn off that tap and expect the industry to find skilled Kiwis to replace them, because there just aren’t any. 

“Without these migrant workers, hospitality is suffering significantly. 

“The industry needs a transition pathway to bridge the gap till we can train more Kiwis, and there’s a range of things the Government can do to help that.”

Ms White said the skills shortage in hospitality was not new.

“It’s not a post-COVID issue, though that has exacerbated it,” she said.

“For example, in roles such as chefs and line cooks, we have been facing shortages for more than five years, and the Government has been aware of that.

“While the industry can train specific skills on the job, we need more students in training, and more focus on soft skills training – ie customer service, flexibility and positive attitudes.

“In the meantime, migrants can play a key role in plugging gaps across the sector, and we need the Government to acknowledge that and look at these short-term solutions as a matter of urgency.”

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Grantlee Kieza

Grantlee Kieza OAM has won three Queensland Media Awards, two Australian Sports Commission Awards and has been a finalist for the Walkley and News Awards and for the Harry Gordon Award for Australian sports journalist of the year. In 2019 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his writing. You can find more of his writing in our upcoming Accom News print magazine!

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