Any ban on overseas chefs working in New Zealand would have disastrous consequences for the tourism industry and the economy, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.
The policy position taken this week by Labour Party Leader Andrew Little is a serious misfire, TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.
“There is a massive chef shortage in New Zealand. It’s the single biggest skills shortage facing the tourism and hospitality industry,” he says.
“If you are a New Zealander and you have a chef qualification you can walk into a job tomorrow. Unfortunately, there is no pool of local chefs sitting around waiting for a call.”
Roberts says TIA commissioned research last year into the future labour market needs of the tourism industry. This research identified that New Zealand needs to expand the total tourism workforce by 38% in the next decade if the industry is to meet its ambitious Tourism 2025 goal of growing total tourism revenue to NZD$41 billion a year.
“New Zealand needs many more people working in tourism – including an additional 6200 chefs,” he says.
“We need to train thousands more New Zealanders as chefs and for the foreseeable future we need to bring in qualified overseas workers to work in the kitchens of our restaurants and cafes.
“Those isolated cases where a restaurant is exploiting its imported labour should be cracked down on, but we must not ban overseas chefs – that would be a disaster for the tourism sector and the economy.”