New beginnings

John HartThe new year has begun with another shake-up in Canberra, with a ministerial reshuffle.

We have seen an exceptional minister, the Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP, make way for a younger minister in the Hon. Steve Ciobo MP.

Minister Ciobo is a good friend of the Restaurant & Catering Association. Steve is a passionate advocate for tourism and really understands private sector investment in the visitor economy.

Another area the Association is heavily involved in is Vocational Education and Training (VET). The new VET minister is Senator the Hon. Scott Ryan. Senator Ryan understands the skills system and is in a good position to continue the reforms that were advanced by his senior minister, Simon Birmingham.

The new ministers take the reins on their portfolios at an interesting time. Tourism demand is strong, as is the demand for dining out. This makes the ministers’ jobs easier, but also brings with it some challenges. Dealing with this demand makes investment in infrastructure and investment in skills vital.

The recent report on skills shortages in the tourism and hospitality industry suggests a seven per cent vacancy rate and that 71 per cent of employers believe that the staff they employ don’t have the skills to do their job. The Department of Employment projects our industry needs more than 90,000 additional people to staff the industry between now and 2019—that certainly is a challenge!

John Hart

CEO, Restaurant & Catering

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