The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has confirmed it will be part of the Government’s Job and Skills Summit (JSS), taking place this week – the only hospitality representatives at the Summit.

The JSS is bringing together unions, employers, civil society and governments, to address Australia’s shared economic challenges and recommend immediate actions and opportunities for medium and long-term reform.

AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson told The Shout, it was “absolutely imperative” that the hospitality industry was represented at the Summit.

“The accommodation service and hospitality industries employ nearly a million people, that’s nearly one in 10 Australian workers. We are delighted the AHA has a seat at the table. I have been in conversations with other people in those industries about how we represent everyone’s views and everyone is in lockstep on the same issues.”

He added: “There’s no doubt hospitality should be represented, how many people from hospitality could be there? I don’t know. I think it is credit to the AHA and the initiative that we show that we will be there.”

Some of those AHA initiatives include a world first aggregated renewable energy power purchase agreement saving of 123,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. This helps create demand for renewable energy, which creates jobs.

The AHA has also worked with the United Workers Union to achieve a ground breaking act of consensus relating to full-time hours, use of annual leave, and duties and location of work. AHA also led change to the Hospitality Award through the introduction of ‘flexible’ part-time, which has decreased casualisation in the hospitality workforce.

Ferguson told The Shout that as well as the JSS, he has been part of a number of ‘roundtables’ already starting the consultation process on addressing the skills issue and that he’s going to the Summit with a number of ideas.

“Obviously migration and visa processing are the immediate critical issues for our sector and many others – it’s a given that has to be addressed,” Ferguson said.

“But then there are other opportunities where we can increase the employment of Australians, such as mature-aged, adult apprenticeships, young people’s apprenticeships, getting women back into the workforce. We want to hire Australians first, but there are people in the Australian workforce who are underemployed and I think there’s going to be a lot of good conversations, not just at the Summit, but into the future, as the Government prepares its thinking on this.”

Ferguson also told The Shout: “I think bringing 150 people together to try and work through these issues is highly commendable and the Summit has gathered a lot of goodwill already.

“I think the Government is going to have that many ideas it’s going to be difficult to sort through them all, but there are some obvious things we can do straight away. Like in our award, we have the flexible, part-time provision that currently does not exist across other retail sectors. We will be encouraging the Government to put that into other sectors so people can get more secure employment, and especially enable women to come back to work. We think there’s some really quick wins that can be  had.”

The JSS takes places over September 1 and 2, and Treasury will then invite submissions and engage with the wider community over the next 12 months.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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