Fears industry starved of chefs

The hospitality industry has welcomed the addition of chefs on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s skilled occupation list.
The hospitality industry has welcomed the addition of chefs on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s skilled occupation list.

The Australian Hotels Association of WA (AHAWA) and Hospitality Group Training WA (HGTWA) have welcomed the Federal Government’s re-appointment of chefs to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection Skilled Occupation List (SOL) to help meet the need.

HGTWA manager Iain McDougall said there was an emerging desperation in the industry about how it would fill the estimated extra 1500 chef/cook positions that would be available five years.

Last month Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash said the addition of chefs to the SOL reflected the occupation was in short supply, coupled with strong growth projected in the caf� and restaurant sector.

The department’s SOL details the 188 occupations that Australia currently needs and that are acceptable for permanent and temporary skilled migration to Australia.

Mr McDougall said based on the 35 per cent completion rate on three-year chef apprenticeships, in three years time only about 130 apprenticeships would be complete and ready to join the workforce.

‘But 40 per cent of all completions either leave the industry or go overseas which will leave around 80 available to industry,’ Mr McDougall said.

‘This gives you an indication of the desperation of the industry in finding qualified chefs.’

AHAWA CEO Bradley Woods said there had been a national shortage of qualified chefs throughout the Australian hotel and hospitality industry since they were removed from the SOL four years ago.

‘The WA hospitality industry has been in desperate need of semi-skilled labour after losing many cooks and chefs to the mining sector as the salary expectations of workers increased,’ Mr Woods said.

‘The AHA has advocated a return of chefs to the SOL but with greater checks and balances to ensure demonstrated competencies and qualifications are met. There are skilled people willing to come and work in the industry where they are needed.’

One of Perth’s leading employers of chefs and cooks is the Crown complex in Burswood but its hotels and entertainment chief operating officer, Andrew Hill, said Crown Perth liked to hire locally wherever possible.

‘Crown Perth has created a program where internal promotions were the complex’s preferred method of development,’ Mr Hill said.

‘Crown Perth has a chef team of 450 and an apprenticeship program under way which will see another 80 new chefs coming into the industry.’

Chef shortage
Registered food outlets:
– City of South Perth – 216
– Town of Victoria Park – 209
– City of Belmont – 144

– 2012: 450 apprentice chef commencements
– 2013: 380 apprentice chef commencements
– 35 per cent completion rate on three-year apprenticeships
– 40 per cent of all completions leave the industry
or go overseas
– 1500 extra chef/cook positions needed in WA
in five years
*Source: Hospitality Group Training WA