Accor’s Chief Operating Officer Accor Pacific, Simon McGrath, is calling on the Australian Government to back the hotel industry for jobs growth.
McGrath says it’s the “perfect time” for the Government to support the sector and it also needs to invest in hotel and tourism training for sustainable jobs growth.
With Government forecasts predicting reductions in employment in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors over the next five years, McGrath says Federal and State governments need to invest in hospitality training to create substantial long-term employment for Australia’s young.
In the recently released Federal Department of Employment report – ‘Industry Employment Projections for the five years to November 2018’, the accommodation and hospitality sector is predicted to grow at an average rate of 7.1% per annum, adding 55,200 new jobs over the five years, compared to projected employment reductions in a range of ‘traditional’ industries such as mining and manufacturing.
Industry sectors associated with hospitality such as Travel Agency/Tour Arrangement Services and Arts/Recreation are also expected to grow strongly, where as a previous boom sector, IT/Telecommunications, is expected to expand employment levels by just 0.1% annually.
The report also identifies the accommodation/food services (hospitality) sector as being a major future driver of employment in regional Australia, and with mining having peaked in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, tourism will be increasingly seen as a solution to providing sustainable replacement employment.
Accor believes that if the employment opportunities in the tourism industry are to be realised, it is vital that significant investment be made in training and development.
Accor has established its own Registered Training Organisation (RTO), Academie Accor, and believes there is considerable potential for addressing employment issues in specific areas – such as Indigenous employment – by partnering with the industry to introduce major new training initiatives.
“The hospitality sector needs a regular flow of qualified employees who are able to work in cities, and regional and remote areas, and there is considerable scope to advance the training sector to meet these requirements,” McGrath says.
“We have operated Academie Accor for over a decade to provide a range of nationally recognised qualifications and training programs, and this has helped address the shortage of trained workers in the hospitality sector, but there are vast numbers of Australians who are missing out.
“There is significant new hotel and tourism infrastructure being developed, but no corresponding increase in training resources. It is not just about numbers, it is also about quality of service in what is an increasingly competitive environment. Australia needs to significantly increase its training if we are to compete with overseas countries and both attract more international visitors and build domestic tourism.”
McGrath says there was a particular need to address Indigenous employment, with tourism and hospitality being a ‘natural’ industry for growing Indigenous employment.
“All the recent reports have painted a gloomy economic picture for many Indigenous Australians, but we have hotels in our network in places such as Uluru and Kakadu where great strides have been made to engage and train Indigenous Australians, while Accor’s Indigenous Employment Programme, which has operated for over a decade, has trained and employed over 800 young Indigenous Australians,” he says.
“It’s important for the private sector to support the Government’s tourism employment plans and contribute to Australia’s prosperity by up-skilling workers who are ideal for tourism and hospitality, particularly Indigenous and mature-age employees. They offer the all-important life experience in a human-oriented industry and we are proud to be providing employment opportunities they may otherwise not have.
“It will also have the benefit of reducing welfare dependence and increasing tax revenues, both of which are important when governments are looking to balance their budgets.”
During 2013, Academie Accor built on its already successful Indigenous Employment Program with 158 refugee and 100 Indigenous workers completing the ‘Job Ready’ training facilitated across Australia. The program focuses on building practical skills in key areas of hotel operations and management, covering both theory and practical skills. Over 180 of these job ready participants are currently employed in Accor hotels.
The Government has acknowledged Accor for its recent work with refugees, awarding the hotel group the Business Inclusion Award at the Migration and Settlement Awards last month in a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister.
“The Job Ready training has been a resounding success in laying the hospitality foundations for refugee and Indigenous workers, but the major aim is to get Indigenous staff into more supervisory roles so they in turn can provide mentoring to younger staff, be role models for future graduates and encourage others to join,” McGrath says. “Who better to tell the story of Australia to travellers than our Indigenous people.”
Academie Accor facilitates nationally-accredited traineeship programs including Certificates II, III, IV or a Diploma in Hospitality, in addition to various coaching and leadership programs for hotel leaders and senior executives. By mid-2014 Academie Accor will roll out a virtual learning and development platform which will have major benefits to Accor employees located in regional and remote properties.