Job security looms for those who stick with hospitality, write Debra Bela and Cara Jenkin
YOUNG workers who look beyond a hospitality job being a stepping stone to a ‘‘ real’’ career and recognise the long-term potential of the industry will benefit through its predicted jobs growth.
Hospitality struggles to retain many staff, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Mobility Survey suggesting about 30 per cent of hospitality workers leave the occupation each year.
The hospitality industry has a young workforce, with 45 per cent aged 25 years or younger, as many school leavers take entry-level jobs to help fund university or vocational courses. On graduation, they typically move out of hospitality and into the profession of their qualification.
The turnover is costing workers the chance to secure a successful career by using the years of experience they already have under their belt.
Substantial growth is forecast in many hospitality sectors, particularly cafe, restaurant and takeaway food, which now employs 66 per cent of the hospitality workforce, or 489,000 people nationally.
It is predicted to grow by 10.4 per cent in the next five years. The number of jobs for cafe and restaurant managers is expected to be 6.4 per cent greater by 2017. Deloitte Access Economics labour force projections estimate that without policy change, the shortage in hospitality tourism workers will increase to 56,000 by 2015, with about half of the positions likely to be in skilled occupations: kitchenhands, waiters, managers and chefs.
Restaurant and Catering SA chief executive Sally Neville says there is a ‘‘ massive’’ shortage of experienced hospitality staff in South Australia.
Experienced cooks, chefs and restaurant managers are the hardest positions to fill.
She says there are many newly qualified recruits to the industry but they do not yet hold the advanced skills required of them.
‘‘ The demand for experienced staff in hospitality has continued to grow,’’ she says. ‘‘ It was growing about 7 per cent, in the past 10 years.
‘‘ Post-GFC, there has been a slight drop off but there’s still growth of 3 per cent. ‘‘ So it’s still growing.’’ She says the growth has been despite businesses closing in the past year.
‘‘ Even though there’s reduced outlet numbers, the demand in existing business is still strong,’’ Neville says.
In South Australia, 52,000 people work in hospitality, of which 33,000 are part-time.
There are 35,000 people employed in the cafe, restaurant and takeaway sector, 10,000 people work in pubs, taverns and bars and 5000 people are employed in accommodation.
Neville says now is the time for students who want to try hospitality to get work, revealing there are ‘‘ more businesses looking for more staff than available bodies’’.
Quality Training and Hospitality College director Richard Finlayson says it is helping to fill the void of experienced workers by training its students in a real restaurant.
‘‘ They are part of a live hospitality environment, interacting with chefs and more experienced staff, giving them a chance to develop skills and confidence but most of all gain industry experience,’’ he says. The college has its own catering business, Quality Catering, which currently holds the contract for Wisteria Restaurant at Adelaide Zoo.
It is where bar and waiting students practise their service and chefs practise in the a-lacarte kitchen under the supervision of their trainers.
‘‘ All the top hospitality schools around the world use training restaurants,’’ Finlayson says.
‘‘ It is the best way to prepare students for the reality of working in the industry.’’
Tim Grech, 19, studied his Certificate II in Hospitality through the college and now has a Certificate IV in Hospitality under way.
When he left school, he was not sure what to pursue and his mother encouraged him to enrol in the Certificate II.
‘‘ Hospitality always has that sort of career path available in any country,’’ he says.
‘‘ A lot of young people like that as an idea, to travel and work at the same time.’’
Now a food and beverage attendant, he says hospitality is good bridging work, especially for those who are unsure about what career to take, because there are career opportunities within the industry and it also teaches skills that are in demand by other fields, such as how to cope in highpressure situations.