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Staff shortages continue to dog the industry

No respite in sight as job vacancies continue to build

While nationally, as accommodation providers and tourism operators collective optimism continues to build, thanks in the main to increased demand from a supportive domestic market, and a slowly but surely ever-growing influx of international visitors, staff shortages continue to represent the biggest blot on the sector’s landscape.

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Industry leaders attending the recent Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra say the event provided a timely opportunity to have the concerns of industry voiced on a national stage.

But, while the Summit delivered several significant and immediate results, from the introduction of measures aimed at reducing employment barriers, to easing visa applications pressures and providing funding for vocational education, industry leaders say there is still much work to be done on resolving the problem.

QTIC CEO, Brett Fraser

Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Chief Executive, Brett Fraser told AccomNews a new tone of collaboration between industry and government would allow the sector to move on with renewed optimism in tackling ever-pressing workforce challenges.

“While more work must be done and no silver bullets were provided for the tourism sector, it is affirming to see that government has listened and responded to some of our immediate concerns,” Mr Fraser said.

But the fact remains here seems to be no respite in the moment as job vacancies continue to grow month on month, with the latest figures in Queensland alone showing tourism and hospitality businesses are looking to fill 6,122 positions.

“From tour guides and customer service managers to chefs and adventure tourism specialists, these empty roles are deeply affecting operators,” Mr Fraser said.

“We know that many business owners and senior managers are having to pick up tea towels, don aprons and drive the tour buses to ensure services continue operating.”

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AHA CEO, Stephen Ferguson

Australian Hotels Association (AHA) CEO, Stephen Ferguson told AccomNews the figures speak for themselves.

Hospitality, he said, was facing a 102,000 worker shortfall with more than 23,000 baristas, 13,000 bartenders, some 12,000 chefs, and 7,000-plus housekeepers across accommodation and 11,700 kitchenhands needed.

“And needed now. Not yesterday. Not last week. Now,” he said.

Mr Ferguson said while he was pleased there was strong recognition across the summit regarding the worker shortages, and as much as there is an understanding skilled and unskilled migration are necessary to plug gaps, there was also a strong theme other domestic worker markets could be better developed, especially mature aged workers and females returning to work.

“It was good to see the government announce an initiative to enable more age pensioners to get back into the workforce,” he said.

“ Age pensioners will receive a one-off credit of an additional $4,000 over this financial year without losing any of their pension.

“This is a good start, but more can be done, and we believe the mature age market is an untapped local resource not reliant on migration. It’s here now and can start work tomorrow.”

TAA CEO, Michael Johnson

Recently announced Accommodation Australia (AA) Interim CEO and Tourism Association Australia (TAA) AA NSW and National CEO, Michael Johnson told AccomNews the industry has huge challenges ahead with the staffing crisis and the ‘stop start’ recovery in international tourism.

But, he said, there certainly has never been a more exciting and optimistic time to be part of a  resilient sector.


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