By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

Yesterday the Australian Hotels Association announced a national commitment to support up to 10,000 internships in hotels through the Federal Government’s Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) program.

At a Perth conference attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment; and Steve Irons MP, federal member for Swan; Bradley Woods, CEO of AHA WA, spoke on behalf of the national association.

“Getting a start in the world of employment is always hard, but PaTH offers a much-needed boost, which is just what so many young people want and need. Financial support for both young people and business provides a platform for positive long-term employment outcomes,” stated Woods.

The PaTH program commenced in April, Senator Cash’s office stated that since then there have been 270 internships within the hospitality industry, 126 of which have already been completed. Fifty-two of those have resulted in employment, either within that business or another business.

“The hospitality sector already supports more than 870,000 jobs across Australia and is forecast to expand rapidly, with almost 100,000 jobs expected to be created in this sector in the next five years,” stated Minister Cash.

“The Coalition has always stood by the belief that the best form of welfare is a job and the PaTH program is delivering opportunities for young Australians to gain the skills and experience they need to move off welfare and into work.”

Since announced, the PaTH program has been criticised for its low wage, with interns in the program being paid $4 per hour. This rate is well below the minimum wage of $11.70 for a first-year, part-time apprentice chef set by the Fair Work ombudsman, but Woods suggested that the PaTH program was a win-win for both the industry and youth looking for employment.

“We need to encourage our youth to see career pathways in the hospitality industry, especially at a time when Australia is experiencing positive tourism growth that is only going to drive the demand for jobs in accommodation and food services.”

The Queensland Hotels Association (QHA) was one of the first branches to implement the PaTH program, after securing funding in February. Since then, the QHA training department has run two 3-week PaTH-funded courses in Brisbane, with 19 young job-seekers. The course has resulted in employment for a few of the trainees with QHA hotel members. The course includes RSA and RSG training.

Woods believes that the AHA’s commitment to PaTH could nurture the next generation of hotel operators.

“There are many senior hotel and hospitality owners and managers across Australia who started out in trainee and internship positions, and worked hard to build successful careers.”

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