Foreign workers needed to fill workforce gap in regional Australia

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April 3, 2014 – The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) reported that a shortage of around 56,000 hospitality and tourism workers is imminent in 2015.

This projection is due to the situation that Australians in the hospitality and tourism industry are unwilling to relocate in regional areas, which receive millions of tourists annually as a result of active promotions by Tourism Australia.

Foreign workers needed in hospitality and tourism industry in regional Australia

According to Austrade, regional tourism needs workers in hotels, pubs and restaurants. Austrade also reported to the Productivity Commission that Australians have been reluctant to relocate to regional areas due to insecure work, housing shortages and undesirable hours.

In order to fill the workforce gap, Austrade suggests that the jobs must be made available to foreign workers, who are more willing to move to regional areas. “International workers . . . offer greater flexibility for the tourism industry and are more likely to move to regions to source work,” said Austrade in the report.

However, the current English language and wage requirements are deemed to hinder regional employers from finding suitable foreign workers for their businesses. Thus, Austrade calls for lower wage and English language thresholds so employers can hire staff easily. This flexibility in the conditions on temporary work visas, said Austrade, “will help the Australian tourism industry become more competitive, encourage greater investment, and support regional development.”

Austrade backed its claim for lower requirements with the results of the TTF-MasterCard Tourism Industry Sentiment Survey, which identified shortage of skilled labour and inadequate room supply as areas the industry needs to improve on.

Austrade clearly summarized its point to the Productivity Commission by saying that skilled migrants must be employed to fill the workforce gap since Australians cannot support the industry by moving to regional areas. This is the only available option to strengthen the country’s tourism, which employs over half a million workers and earns over $42 billion every year.

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