Language gap

Your Association took on the Immigration Minister on changes to rules for overseas students

The Association recently challenged Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, in an open forum over the migration of cooks and chefs. The Minister said the ‘boil of overseas students studying cookery had been lanced’! R&C questioned the Minister’s alternative, sponsorship; it’s hard for small business, and cooks would be rejected anyway on the basis of their language skills. The Minister made supportive statements and, for the first time, said he had sympathy for the argument against English language skills for specialist chefs. This may provide some scope for further work. This issue is causing real problems for the industry. Reports are coming in  daily of students leaving their jobs and going home because they have no prospect if remaining in Australia. The Association has put up another alternative in the form of an overseas student apprenticeship. This is being discussed in the context of the National Long Term Tourism Strategy. It would involve students enrolling from off-shore into a three year cookery apprenticeship. They would pay for their own training and be engaged in a similar fashion to local apprentices (and on the same wage rates). These initiatives are vital in keeping up the supply of skilled staff for our businesses during the next growth period ahead.

John Hart
CEO, Restaurant & Catering 

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