Home' Australian Hotelier : AH SEPTEMBER 2016 Contents 10 | SEPTEMBER 2016 AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER
TRAINING, HR AND SUPER
Ask any hotel operator in the industry
who has had to do any recruiting for
kitchen staff in the last two years, and
they will all say the same thing -- it's
one of the most difficult issues they're facing
in any aspect of operations. It's a problem that
a lot of publicans are vocal about, and even
hospitality trainers -- involved in getting future
cooks ready for the industry -- are worried
about the problem, with fears it will get even
worse in the long-term.
We asked two leaders on both sides of
the equation about what's exacerbating the
problem, if there are any solutions, and how to
entice and retain good kitchen staff.
DEMAND > SUPPLY
The issue is quite simple -- the demand for
chefs is largely outstripping supply. Jim Irwin,
acting director (vocational education training)
for William Angliss Institute (WAI), says the
problem is two-fold: people are eating out
more than they ever have in Australia, while
less people are choosing to go into cookery as a
career. While enrolment numbers at WAI are at
record numbers, Irwin says that people are just
not staying in cookery long-term.
"So many [cooks] are finding their way out
of the industry, and that means that we've just
got this amazing requirement to keep replacing
people. We're doing our best but there really
aren't enough young Australians choosing to
come into cookery as a career," he explains.
And the main reason for this are the long,
unsociable hours -- particularly unappealing for
"It's a fairly anti-social career opportunity,"
Irwin states. "They're not able to keep up their
social life, their school mates are all off doing
other things and working a Monday to Friday
job, and the kids in cooking have a totally
different set of hours and expectations. The
hours are tough and if you're going to do it,
you've got to love it so much that that passion
overcomes all of those perceived negatives."
The demand side of the equation is intensified
by the increasing tendency of Australians to eat
out, with the average now being two to three
times a week. This is thanks to both an increase
in immigration from cultures where eating out
is the norm, and to the behavioural trend of
consumers spending their disposable income on
smaller 'luxuries' like dining, rather than bigger
purchases like a holiday.
With a formula that adds up to tough times
in kitchen recruitment, Justine Baker, COO of
Solotel, affirms that the issue has even had an
impact for the pub group, one of Sydney's largest.
"It's at all levels of the kitchen. We've seen
it previously with the tightening of the labour
market, where it's been very much at the bottom
end of chef de partie, or lower at the cook level.
But recently it's tightened at all levels."
THE 411 ON 457S
As qualified cooks become increasingly hard
to come by in Australia, many businesses are
looking overseas for kitchen staff, relying on
457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visas. While
in general, 457 visas are normally applied
for in jobs in remote areas like mining, when
Australians don't necessarily want to leave
the cities; in cookery 457 visa applications are
required for roles in all of the major cities.
Many pub groups are looking at chefs
from South-East Asia for its relative vicinity,
or at Europeans who are in the country on a
working holiday visa. However, Baker says that
even with the lack of local cooks, the Federal
Government is making the processing of 457
applications quite difficult.
"The thing that's compounding it is that we
now have a greater reliance on international
candidates through the 457 program, and
at the same time the government is putting
increased scrutiny on every single application,
meaning they take a longer time to go
through," explains Baker.
So if the problem is getting both local and
international staff to stay in a role, how can a
hotel or hotel group retain their workforce? A
work-life balance, incentives, training and team
culture can help to keep talented people on board.
When the biggest gripe is the long, anti-
social hours, ensuring that your staff retain
a decent work-life balance can be key. This
doesn't necessarily mean working a standard
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm roster, but
accommodating people's needs so that they get
the most suitable hours for themselves where
NOT ENOUGH COOKS
PUBS AND THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IN GENERAL ARE FACING A STARK PROBLEM -- THERE JUST AREN'T
ENOUGH COOKS TO GO AROUND.
WAI graduate and Executive Chef Kaw-Wai Lo teaching WAI students
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