Australian hospitality employers require a suitably qualified, stable workforce but the industry has long-standing difficulties attracting and retaining skilled workers. The Australian Government’s Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) provides a potential solution to this challenge.
The PLS is an employer-sponsored program open to all industries in rural and regional Australia. It enables Australian businesses to recruit workers from the Pacific islands and Timor-Leste for low-skilled and semi-skilled roles for between one and three years, when local labour is unavailable.
Hospitality businesses across Queensland and the Northern Territory are already benefiting from the Scheme, recruiting Pacific workers for positions such as customer service, cleaning, laundry, grounds maintenance and cooking. Many of these workers have Australian standard qualifications such as Certificate III in Hospitality and Commercial Cookery.
APTC offers Australian standard Certificate III qualifications in commercial cookery, hospitality and tourism. Graduates are well placed to take up roles in the Australian tourism and hospitality sector.
Allan Renkema, former Human Resources Executive General Manager for Mulpha Australia, said the program has helped the business reduce their staff turnover on Hayman Island, which had been at 130 to 140 per cent each year for the past 15 years.
“The Pacific Labour Scheme has introduced us to some quality applicants. First from Kiribati in 2016, and we’ve since had seven or eight trips to the Pacific to recruit in the vicinity of 70 Pacific islanders for Hayman Island,” he said.
“Here we have a program that allows us to recruit for roles that we would never otherwise fill or get visas that we could never get before. For any other employers, I would suggest it’s probably one of the best recruitment schemes that I’ve ever seen.”
The PLS not only supports Australian businesses but also provides an opportunity for workers to gain skills and income in Australia to take home to their communities. These incentives make workers highly motivated, with a strong desire to learn and succeed in the role.
“There’s a very hard work ethic, attention to detail, an amazing ability to listen and also an interest in learning,” said Mulpha Hayman Island’s Head Chef, David Shay.
“They love what they do, they’re friendly people and if I were to leave here, I would love for all the staff to come with me because I have had nothing but a positive experience.”
Employers seeking to recruit workers through the PLS receive dedicated support throughout the application and recruitment process. The approximate timeline to become an approved employer is eight weeks.