MEDIA RELEASE: Skilled migration report delivers for restaurants, cafes and caterers

Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) today backed the recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s Interim Report of the inquiry into Australia’s skilled migration program as a win for the nation’s 48,600 restaurants, cafes and catering businesses.

R&CA CEO Wes Lambert said that the interim recommendations in the report set out a vision for the hospitality sector to help them get the skilled workers they need to keep tens of thousands of Australian workers in jobs.

“The report takes a clear-eyed view of just how bad the skills crisis is in this country and identifies increased skilled migration as a key economic lever that must be pulled to aid in Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”, Mr Lambert said.

“Every post-disaster period for this country for the last 100 years has succeeded due to an influx in overseas workers to help our economy recover and continue to grow, and the post-pandemic period is no different.

“With more than ten thousand current job vacancies currently listed for chefs and restaurant/café managers, ensuring businesses can access those trade-qualified migrants is vitally important. Without these changes, many businesses risk a significant reduction in their operating hours or face closure.

“These businesses live or die on being able to get a head chef and a manager, with up to 20-30 further employees relying on these positions being filled. Without those 1-2 skilled positions being filled, the jobs of all employees are at risk. 

“The committee also reasonably understood what is considered ‘normal’ when it comes to pre-pandemic settings must be cast aside in favour of what is needed to help get our nation back on track.

R&CA strongly believes that skilled migration should not become a political football and called upon all parties in the parliament to support the interim report’s recommendations.

“An active skilled migration program and a keen focus on skilling Australians are not opposites but are in fact complementary ways to get our economy, and in particular sectors like hospitality, moving again”, Mr Lambert said.