The Federal Government has extended the Priority Skilled Migration Occupation List (PSMOL), with chefs now included.
The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke MP, said he Government engaged with small, medium and large Australian employers, business leaders, and industry bodies across the economy to determine these changes.
“Government has received valuable feedback from Australian business stakeholders on critical skill vacancies, which has been considered together with data from the National Skills Commission, in order to develop today’s update to the Priority Migration Skilled Migration List,” Minister Hawke said.
“The Morrison Government will continue to support Australian businesses, including through skilled migration, as the engine room of our nation’s economy.”
The move has been widely welcomed, with the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) saying they have pushed for the inclusion of chefs to the list in an effort to alleviate the worker crisis.
AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson said: “Our international borders remain closed and we cannot access the usual stream of international chefs who form a critical part of our workforce.
“Hotels in regional parts of Australia hard-hit by bushfires and droughts are desperate for chefs in particular with some pub and hotel restaurants closed during the week due to the worker shortage.
“Some of our most successful hotels are currently more than 50% down on job applications for the same time last year.
“Our priority is always to employ Aussies first, and always will be, but international chefs add to the hospitality experience helping our businesses provide a world-best service as we move into the global COVID recovery phase.
“There are huge financial incentives for us to hire local – and they remain. To bring in an overseas worker like a chef costs a business anything from $10,000 to $25,000 when you factor in visa fees, skills assessments, migration lawyers etc and you have to wait for three months and then repeat it all again in two or four years. It’s not something entered into lightly but the fact is many hospitality businesses have no other option.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson added: “The accommodation sector has been going through tough times with a severe shortage of front-line workers like chefs – that’s why we welcome today’s announcement by the Federal Government.
“Adding chefs to the Priority Skilled Migration Occupation List is a great first step which will put accommodation hotels in a much better position.”
Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) also welcomed the move, and National President Con Castrisos OAM said: “These skilled migrants are a critical part of thousands of hospitality business across the country, keeping businesses open for longer hours and keeping dozens of Australian workers in jobs. They also play a critical role in training the next generation of Australian chefs in cuisines from all around the world.”
CEO Wes Lambert added: “R&CA had been strongly advocating for these changes both to the Morrison Government and to the Joint Standing Committee. These changes will help businesses across our sector access the skills they need to grow their business and employ more Australians.”
Visa holders, who have been sponsored by an Australia business in a PMSOL occupation will be subject to quarantine arrangements at their own expense.
Existing skilled migration occupation lists will remain active and visas will still be processed, but priority will be given to those in occupations on the PMSOL.