The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government of changes to visa arrangements that will address labour and skills shortages in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Jenny Lambert, Acting CEO of the Chamber, said temporarily increasing the number of hours international students can work suits all parties – the economy as a whole, the specific industries and the students themselves.
“When borders shut last year, international students in Australia experienced prolonged financial hardship without access to JobSeeker or JobKeeper. These changes will help them recover financially as well as provide much-needed extra hours for employers desperate to get staff,” she stated.
“For some months now, we have been raising the alarm that businesses have been unable to operate at full capacity because of widespread labour and skills shortages.”
A 40-hour fortnightly limit previously applied
Immigration minister Alex Hawke announced at the weekend that his department is removing existing work-hour caps for Student Visa holders employed in the tourism and hospitality sector. A 40-hour fortnightly limit previously applied during study periods.
In addition, temporary visa holders will be able to apply for a Pandemic Event Visa for a period of 12 months if they work in the sector.
This decision adds tourism and hospitality to the critical sectors of agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care.
Last month a roadhouse in far-flung Outback Queensland created international headlines when it highlighted the hospitality industry problem of too many jobs chasing too few people.
Outback businesses are particularly hard-hit
The Burke and Wills Roadhouse in Four Ways, a tiny Outback community of around 15 people, made an emotional appeal on Facebook for enough workers to help service rising demand from travellers.
Its owners said that despite constantly advertising for employees it had proved near-impossible to find them, and other hospitality venues in the area were suffering from the same difficulties.
They noted on social media: “No one replies to our job ads; some have committed to coming but then pull out last minute; others don’t bother to answer our messages. A good friend of ours who owns another great Australian roadhouse has posted over 1,200 messages/posts looking for people with no success… 1,200 posts!!”
Newman said the Chamber hoped the Government would go further by extending options to all temporary skilled migrants, allowing them to remain in Australia in the long term should their employer be willing to sponsor them.