Hospitality industry concerned over skilled worker changes

North Coast Hotel Group Director Harry Barry explains the workforce shortages to Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan at the Hoey Moey in Coffs Harbour.

FEDERAL Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan is calling for common sense when it comes to skilled workforce immigration, in particular for regional hospitality businesses.

Mr Conaghan said he has received “multiple impassioned pleas” from local hospitality groups over proposed changes to the Core Skills Occupations List (CSOL) which allows a range of working visas to be granted.

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Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has released a draft updated CSOL for consultation, with submissions open until 31 May.

JSA has stated that the draft CSOL has been released for consultation purposes only and does not represent the final advice that will be provided to Government.

However, hospitality businesses are concerned that the draft recommends that the role of ‘Cafe or Restaurant Manager’ be removed from the CSOL list.

The roles of ‘Chef’ and ‘Cook’ are also being considered for removal, pending consultation.

“These impending changes to working visas are causing widespread industry discomfort as hospitality businesses struggle to secure key staff,” Mr Conaghan said.

“Hospitality workforce shortages are currently affecting regional areas harder than the cities with the candidate pool set to get even smaller should the changes pass through.

“I urge JSA to reconsider their position and take into account the urgent need in regional areas.

“Australia is more than just the cities.

“Our Government bodies must remember that,” Mr Conaghan said.

North Coast Hotel Group Director Harry Barry is one local business owner concerned by the proposed changes.

“Our group of hotels has been advertising continuously for eighteen months for chefs, hotel managers and café/bistro managers.

“I am absolutely flabbergasted that Jobs and Skills Australia is now recommending that these occupations be removed from the Core Skills Occupations List.

“I can guarantee you there are massive shortages in rural NSW for these skilled workers.

“I cannot understand how JSA has concluded that we no longer have a shortage in this space!” Mr Barry stated.

Jobs and Skills Australia says the consultation process on the CSOL is ongoing, with stage three of stakeholder engagement set to begin soon.

JSA is seeking feedback from businesses both with and without skill shortages, and from Australian and migrant workers and job seekers, and is set to consult with state and territory governments, academics and researchers, unions and employee bodies, and organisations providing services to potential and recent migrants.

Mr Barry, however, is not impressed with the level of consultation undertaken so far.

“If JSA had engaged in a ‘Deep Stakeholder Engagement Process’ as was proposed, then they have not spoken to anybody in the hospitality industry.

“Every hotelier I have spoken to over the last 24 months are having the same issues as we are – these skill shortages are real.

“We need these occupations to stay on the CSOL.

“Without access to these skilled workers, we will struggle to fill our current rosters and building and expanding our hotels will become increasingly more difficult because of this complete lack of forward thinking.”

To have your say and for more information on the CSOL, visit

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