Dropping off the list

Once again, a one-size-fits-all policy is having a real and negative impact on our industry

Following the removal of cooks and chefs from the Skilled Occupations List, much attention has turned to the hospitality workforce. Every occupation in every region is being probed for some sign of a solution to the shortage of skilled staff. The truth is the shortage, due to strong growth, has been masked by a previously good supply of overseas workers. It has not entirely met the shortage but it has meant that the threat of capacity constraint has been kept at bay. Most businesses have not had to reject bookings due to a lack of staff—until now!

Recently we’ve heard stories about numbers of bookings (and walk-ins) being limited because of kitchen staff shortages. Reports include almost overnight shortages created when overseas students decide to leave the country. They are leaving because they do not believe there is any prospect of being allowed to stay.

I am concerned at the impact this will have on our very strong and high quality Chinese, Thai, Indian, Italian and Japanese restaurants. As customers we have all become very used to excellent, authentic cuisine from other nations. Much of this has been thanks to skilled migration. We are starting to see these businesses negatively affected by a one-size fits all policy driven by union concerns in other industries. It does not make much sense. Let’s hope the Government listens!

Peter Doyle
President, Restaurant & Catering  

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