Employers and industry stakeholders have been invited to comment on a new draft labour agreement for the tourism and hospitality industry which aims to attract skilled workers from overseas.
The proposed agreement establishes a common set of requirements tailored specifically for tourism and hospitality businesses recruiting skilled overseas workers, and follows discussions with the industry at the Tourism Employment Roundtable in August last year.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the development of a template labour agreement will help to ease labour and skills pressures by improving the tourism and hospitality industry's ability to attract and retain labour in some of the occupations identified by the industry as being in critical shortage.
The agreement would cover experienced waiters, chefs, bar attendants, hotel managers and other occupations, vacancies in which can be hard to fill locally or may be ineligible under other migration programs. “This template seeks a balance between upholding the standards of the visa system while giving employers easier access to workers whose skills are hard to find in Australia,” Bowen said. Approved employers could nominate workers for temporary skilled subclass 457 visas using the template, enabling workers to be granted visas where they meet the requirements.
Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson said the template labour agreement will help address critical skills shortages in the tourism and hospitality sectors. There are already 36,000 vacancies in the hospitality and tourism industry and by 2015 another 56,000 workers will be required, particularly in regional areas, Ferguson said. “Of course, employers would need to show they are doing their best to employ and train domestic workers and paying market rates,” he added.
The peak national industry body, Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), has had input into the proposed template, and said it should give tourism operators more flexibility in sourcing skilled workers from overseas. TTF CEO John Lee said while the proposal is a welcome initiative, it must acknowledge the particulars of the tourism and hospitality sectors. “The tourism industry needs flexible and innovative solutions to its skilled labour challenges and the proposed template labour agreement needs to help deliver those solutions for a sector which must balance 24/7 operations with fluctuations in seasonal demand,” Lee said.
Views are sought from stakeholders on the list of eligible businesses, occupations, salary, skills levels and English language requirements. The discussion paper is open for comment until 16 March 2012. For more information click here.
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