By Andrew Starke
The hospitality sector is facing a period of uncertainty over access to the major training initiatives announced in last week’s Federal Budget.
The Government’s Building Australia’s Future Workforce program includes $3 billion in funding over six years to maximise the productivity of the Australian workforce, but the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) is concerned that the hospitality sector could miss out on the benefits.
Central to its concerns is that these training initiatives are being offered at a level higher than certificate two and three with some members from both accommodation hotels and pubs having already cast doubt on whether they will be able to continue in-house training programs.
AHA National CEO Des Crowe welcomed the big-spending commitment to training outlined in the Budget, but wondered whether hotels would be able to access the new initiatives.
“The Government’s focus on developing the workforce is to be welcomed”, he said.
“But the Building Australia’s Future Workforce program has come at the expense of existing training measures which have been used by hotels.
“Hotels are facing crippling skills and labour shortages and it is unclear whether the industry will attain a fair share of access to these training initiatives, given the size of its workforce in comparison to other industries.”
The Building Australia’s Future Workforce program has been heralded as one of the major initiatives in the Budget, designed to address the workforce shortages which are holding back a number of industries.
Tourism Australia has said up to 150,000 additional tourism jobs will be required to meet its growth targets so it is imperative that our industry has access to this program.
The AHA said the measures should be seen in the context of recent policy decisions which have adversely affected the hospitality workforce such as the removal of chefs from the Skilled Occupation List despite ongoing critical shortages and the downgrading of the industry by the Government’s Expert Panel on Apprenticeships.
“In light of these recent policy decisions the AHA will be seeking assurances that a fair share of Building Australia’s Future Workforce will be Building Australia’s Hospitality Workforce”, said Crowe.
“The reality for our members is that service standards are critical and access to supported training at a lower level is essential for the development of the industry.
“Clearly there will be a role for the states and territories to play and the AHA is already working with governments across the country to ensure a fair go for the hospitality sector alongside what is being provided for the mining, construction and aged care sectors.
“The commitment to support for regional Australia provides some optimism for our members in these areas that their training needs will be favourably considered despite the announcements in the Budget.”