Australian tourism businesses facing labour and skills pressures from the resources boom will be offered direct support through a new AUD$8.5 million workforce development project.
The nation’s Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, and Minister for Skills, Senator Chris Evans, jointly launched the new Tourism and Hospitality Skills and Workforce Development Project earlier this week (Jul).
Ferguson said that the future success of the Australian tourism industry depends on government and industry working together to ensure well trained and skilled workers can provide the high quality of service required in a competitive tourism market.
“Up to 2,000 predominantly small tourism businesses will be offered tailored one-on-one help with their future workforce skills planning through a AUD$4.4 million advisory service,” he said.
“A further AUD$2.4 million will offer businesses tailored training programs on a co-contribution basis, to ensure their employees’ training is aligned directed to businesses current and future needs.”
Ferguson said the remaining AUD$1.7 million will enhance the Tourism Employment Plans (TEPs) being rolled out in a number tourism ‘hot spots’ across Australia including regional Victoria, Tropical North Queensland, Kangaroo Island, regional Tasmania, Sydney and Canberra.
He said TEPs aim to provide tailored strategies to link industry with Government programs to support recruitment and retention of workers in regions reliant on tourism.
“Tourism is a labour intensive industry, to lift productivity and service quality we need to continue to invest in its people,” Ferguson said.
“With an estimated 36,000 vacancies in tourism businesses, the project builds on the Australian Government’s commitments to increase labour supply, which include Tourism Employment Plans and the Seasonal Worker Program trial for tourism.”
The project is being managed by Service Skills Australia as part of the $700 million National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF).
Evans said the National Workforce Development Fund enables businesses to partner with Government to train and upskill staff in areas of skills shortage.
“We know the jobs of tomorrow will demand higher skills,” he said. “Our priority is to work in partnership with industry to ensure Australians have the skills they need to fill the jobs of the future.
“In total, the Government is now funding 1,451 tourism training places under the NWDF, 69 per cent of those in small businesses.
“Today’s announcement means more Australians will have the opportunity to train and upskill in the skills industry is looking for.”
The Federal Government’s renewed commitment to developing workforce skills within tourism businesses has been welcome news, according to the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA).
AAA CEO Richard Munro said the Association has commenced the processing of informing and encouraging member businesses to take up opportunities presented by the new workforce development project.
“Addressing skills and labour shortages in tourism requires a joint effort from industry and government,” he said.
“That’s why this announcement is about initiatives which will potentially be of great assistance to operators of accommodation businesses; in particular, small businesses in our industry.
“It’s vital that these small businesses are able to attract and train staff to assist with maintaining and enhancing existing levels of service.
“The Accommodation Association will continue to actively encourage our members to become involved in Tourism Employment Plans, Seasonal Worker Program trials and any other employment initiatives that will assist them, as well as the broader accommodation industry,” Munro said.