“Australian 457 visa applications up 15%”

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 August 2015 11:02 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Thursday, 13 August 2015 11:02

Australian 457 visa applications up 15%

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“Coast fine dining customer service set for foreign flavour”

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:58 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:58

SUNSHINE Coast fine-dining restaurants may be about to undergo a cultural revolution.

Changes to the way foreign workers step into Australian fine-dining jobs could transform our hospitality industry by bringing a new cultural mix and attitude to the dining floor and kitchens.

The hospitality industry is looking to lure more foreign cooks, chefs and waitresses after striking a government deal to make it easier to bring in workers in the 457 skilled migration visa program.

However, under the Restaurant (Fine Dining) Industry Labour Agreement, businesses will need to meet criteria to access skilled migrants, including having an a la carte menu, having uniformed staff and a maitre d’ and industry recognition through award programs.

The agreement also outlines the skills, qualifications and English language requirements needed. While there may be a jobs shortage on the Sunshine Coast, those in the hospitality industry said it was often difficult to find committed and skilled staff.

Restaurant & Catering Australia said the agreement was “historic” because of chronic labour shortages “gripping the hospitality sector”, due to lowering the temporary skilled migration income threshold by 10%.

The peak body said the hospitality industry had a shortfall of 56,000 workers in Australia.

Sunshine Coast Real Food Festival director Julie Shelton believes international hospitality workers have special skills they could pass on to local workers.

“Good service at a high-end restaurant is about more than just skills: it’s about having the right cultural background and understanding of what service is all about,” Ms Shelton said.

“There’s no doubt we have plenty of work to do around our customer service on the Coast.

“We have a region where there is a strong growth in the hospitality sector and food tourism, with fantastic experiences and quality food, but despite all this wonderful growth, I’m hearing restaurants are just not finding staff to match the new paradigm. Our food industry is evolving but our labour force isn’t.”

The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly Estate executive chef Cameron Matthews said it was disappointing many hospitality workers treated their roles as “filler” jobs before they start their “real career” in something else.

“In this industry people are looking for a part-time job. Not many people see hospitality as a career: just a uni job before they find something else and customer service suffers because of it,” Mr Matthews said.

“In Europe, a wait person or maitre d’ is considered as a profession.”

In 2014-15, the Accommodation and Food Services industry was the largest user of the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa program, with 4350 applications granted.

Jude Lawerence is one of those international worker success stories.

Lured by glorious weather, she moved to the Coast from Scotland two years ago to be the Tides Waterfront Restaurant manager.

Owner of the hatted restaurant, Michael Mulhearnsaid he would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I feel people who are coming here on a working visa are generally more committed, they really want to be here and are treating their job with enthusiasm,” Mr Mulhearn said.

“I’ve had Australian workers turn up to interviews with thongs and shorts on in a restaurant with tablecloths. We always stress to our staff that customer service is a big part of the job.

(c) Megan Mackander – sunshinecoastdaily.com.au

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“WA the most expensive state to renovate”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 June 2015 01:06 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Tuesday, 2 June 2015 01:06

A long-held belief among West Australian home owners has been confirmed as fact, with pricey tradies making it the most expensive state to renovate.

According to research by ServiceSeeking.com.au, the cost of renovating a WA home has risen 10.4 per cent over the past 12 months.

“A tradie skill shortage means demand for these jobs aren’t being met and tradies are raising their prices because of it,” chief executive Jeremy Levitt said.

Plumbers are particularly costly in WA, with the average hourly rate almost $20 higher than the national average.

(c) AAP

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“Skills shortage to worsen”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 June 2015 01:04 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Tuesday, 2 June 2015 01:04

A 20 per cent plunge in the ­number of school leavers starting ­apprenticeships last year will worsen Australia’s skills short­ages.

New data from the federal government’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research reveals the number of ­apprentices and trainees fell 18 per cent to 316,400 last year.

The number of commencements dropped 22 per cent to 192,000, driven by falls of 26 per cent in NSW and Victoria, 28 per cent in South Australia and 23 per cent in Queensland.

Only 157,000 apprentices and trainees finished their training last year, and 113,000 dropped out.

The biggest falls were among trainees in management, clerical, sales and labouring occupations.

The number of technical and trade apprentices fell 14 per cent, from 207,000 in December 2013 to 182,000 in December last year. The alarming decline in trades training coincides with a new OECD report warning that too many young Australians are neither working nor studying.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report shows that 8 per cent of Australian students are failing to finish Year 12, and 40 per cent of those have poor numeracy and literacy skills.

One in 10 young Australians aged 16 to 29 have low literacy skills — just below the OECD ­average — and 18 per cent have poor numeracy skills — above the average for industrialised countries.

Young Australians are also more likely to have poor skills in problem-solving, despite living in a “technology-rich environment”.

The OECD report says the best way to improve student performance is to give all children access to quality preschool education.

“Programs targeting adolescents and young adults have been less effective in this respect,” it says.

The OECD report says that one in four young people working in industrialised countries have temporary contracts, and 12 per cent are over-qualified for their jobs. “Even young people with strong skills have trouble finding work,’’ the report says.

“Many firms find it too ­expensive to hire individuals with no labour market experience … young people are twice as likely to be unemployed as prime-aged adults.”

The report shows that 12 per cent of young Australians are ­neither working nor studying.

Worldwide, the number of young people who are not studying or looking for a job has doubled to 39 million since the global financial crisis in 2009.

The OECD report warns that the large pool of unemployed youth will result in lower tax revenues, higher welfare payments and social instability.

“Young people should be an asset to the economy, not a ­potential liability,’’ it says.

(c) Natasha Bita

National Education Correspondent
Brisbane

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“Report reveals Australia faces digital Skills Shortages”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 June 2015 01:00 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Tuesday, 2 June 2015 01:00

Australian businesses are facing a significant competitive disadvantage as a result of the digital skills shortage, but lack the strategy to address the shortfall.

According to the Australian Digital Skills and Salary Survey, commissioned by the Slade Group Digital Practice and NET:101 and undertaken by Sweeney Research, a quarter of businesses are finding it difficult to source digital employees. The survey of 150 small to large Australian businesses revealed 70 per cent are finding the digital skills gap taking a moderate or heavy toll on their business.

“With the growing importance of digital in today’s business landscape, a lag in digital expertise in Australia is a major concern – one that has the potential to hinder the ability for growth and innovation,” Slade Group digital practice manager, Elizabeth Ebeli, said.

“These organisations leave themselves wide-open to being left behind in the digital century.”

Difficulty in sourcing digital talent was a result of businesses either thinking there was not enough talent, not being able to compete with higher salaries offered elsewhere, or lacking funds and specialist recruitment to source the right candidate.

To address the shortage, more than 30 per cent had brought in staff from overseas and would do so again, despite the higher costs associated with sponsorship and relocation.

Skills shortage hinders growth and innovation
“In addition, high competition for good digital talent is a challenge, with a quarter believing there is not enough experience and skill in the Australian market, and 18 per cent feeling they are not equipped with the expertise to find the right candidate,” Ebeli said.

At a managerial level, 80 per cent of managers described their staff as being weak in some or several areas of digital expertise, yet only 12 per cent of businesses conducted any internal or external testing during their recruitment process.

Meanwhile, respondents believed 40 per cent of senior managers of their organisations had ‘only a moderate understanding of the importance of digital skills’, while 20 per cent had ‘little understanding’ at all.

“One clear issue for most Australian organisations is that digital natives aren’t in senior leadership positions,” Ebelis said.

“Current senior leaders are often baby boomers and older gen Xers.

Maybe those organisations will be steamrolled by the digital tsunami if they don’t how bring on-board the best digital heads and up-skill all staff in digital capabilities?”

Ebeli noted Australia lagged behind the US and the UK for digital skillsets.

However, on a more positive note, 80 per cent of local businesses have up-skilling programs in place to combat the digital skills gap and compete globally, and two-thirds are planning further investment in training.

“Some are doing it really well,” she added.

“There are some interesting anecdotes from smart movers like Optus head of digital, Chris Smith, who started an employee exchange program with US counterparts. Another organisation said they provide staff training internally by coaching all staff – as well as mentoring for senior executives by US-based experts.”

Employers under-invest in skill development
Moving forward, the report showed the digital skills shortage is set to become an even more pressing challenge, and more than half of businesses surveyed anticipated hiring more digital specialists over the coming 12 months.

At the same time, only 9 per cent thought university graduates were equipped to undertake digital role requirements.

“There’s a strong sentiment that university graduates aren’t equipped with the digital skills required, and given almost all white collar roles now have some overlap into digital, this is a real, emerging issue,” Ebeli said.

As leading companies digitise more business practices and processes, opportunities for investment in digital specific skill-based assessment and on-the-job training represent a significant opportunity for external providers to provide high-level education to the workforce.

“Effective talent management would be focusing on the up-skilling of existing staff,” Ebeli said. “Current neglect of staff training represents a major opportunity for investment into digital education Australia-wide.

While some employers prefer to train staff from the bottom up, there is a lack of willingness to invest in the skills of existing staff, and Australia is suffering as a result.

“The majority of comments that emerged from the survey focused on the urgent need for increased staff training, however the skills gap is magnified by the inability of businesses to source the talent they need from the talent pool.”

*Azadeh Williams is a senior journalist at IDG Communications who has worked internationally on topics including technology education, economic and corporate governance.

This article first appeared at www.cmo.com.au

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