Thursday, 7 March 2013

Controversy surrounding 457 visa crackdown heats up

 The hotel industry has stressed that if the government is going to make it more difficult to employ foreign staff, it must actively promote job vacancies to Australians.

This comes following the government’s decision to crack down on 457 visas that allow Australian employers to sponsor skilled workers from overseas on a temporary basis.

Des Crowe, CEO, Australian Hotels Association (AHA) National said the hotel industry is in desperate need of staff, however the government’s Job Services Australia (JSA) network has failed to fulfil employers' staff quotas.

“Promoting Australian recruitment and cracking down on 457 visas is meaningless unless more is done to connect Australian employers to Australian job seekers.

“The hotel industry would prefer to employ Australians, but we need to be able to find them in order to put them into jobs,” he said.

Crowe said the hotel industry has 36,000 vacancies at present, and he predicts this figure will continue to rise to 56,000 by 2020.

“Tightening restrictions on overseas workers will make it more difficult for employers to fill jobs, so the question now is what will the Government do to get Australian job seekers into Australian job vacancies?” he asked.

He said the JSA network is largely ineffective because it focuses on larger employers, when by nature the hospitality industry is characterised by small business.

“Hospitality is predominantly a small business industry, and we need the JSAs who understand the hospitality industry to connect with local employers not just with big business. Currently the hotel and hospitality sector is being ignored by JSAs,” added Crowe.

He said the AHA promotes hospitality careers, including the current Employ Outside the Box program for disadvantaged job seekers, and highlights the need for the government to similarly demonstrate such support for the industry.

“The AHA is currently providing skills advice to 600 hotels through the Workforce Futures Program.  This presents an ideal opportunity for a tourism and hospitality focused JSA to work with the industry as we roll out the program.

“The previous Employer Broker Program provided funding allowing the AHA to facilitate employment by identifying demand and working with local JSAs to fill vacancies.  It is clear that unless this matching exercise occurs, JSAs will continue to ignore the hospitality sector," he explained.

Crowe said while the JSA system was established with the aim of assisting disadvantaged people find work, many have nevertheless been unable to find meaningful employment because the system simply focuses on directing job seekers to big employers.

“Encouraging employers to maximise the potential of the local workforce by employing workers with a disability, mature-age or disadvantaged workers is nothing more than a gesture unless there are resources available for linking jobs with job seekers.

“As long as employment services fail to recognise the demands of business there will continue to be debate over the need for overseas workers to address labour and skills shortages,” he added.


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