Skilled chefs from overseas can be sponsored by Australian businesses to help fill critical worker shortages.

The Australian Government has moved to partly address the critical shortage of skilled chefs in hotels and hospitality venues across the country, adding the occupation to its Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).

Following extensive consultation with industry associations, Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke yesterday added 22 new occupations to the PMSOL, taking the number of approved skills needed to 41. The move allows Australian businesses to sponsor overseas labour to enter the country and take up critical roles they have been unable to fill from locally available workforces.

Minister Hawke said the Department of Immigration consulted widely with employers of all sizes across many different industries to develop the framework for these changes.

Thousands of skilled chefs left Australia at the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

“Government has received valuable feedback from Australian business stakeholders on critical skill vacancies, which has been considered together with data from the National Skills Commission, in order to develop today’s update to the Priority Migration Skilled Migration List,” Minister Hawke said.

“The Morrison Government will continue to support Australian businesses, including through skilled migration, as the engine room of our nation’s economy.”

The move was warmly welcomed by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) and the Accommodation Association, with both saying the move will help local businesses partially alleviate the worker crisis.

The addition of Chefs on the PMSOL will allow businesses to recruit skilled labour from overseas.

“The accommodation sector has been going through tough times with a severe shortage of front-line workers like chefs – that’s why we welcome today’s announcement by the Federal Government,” said TAA National CEO, Michael Johnson.

“Adding chefs to the Priority Skilled Migration Occupation List is a great first step which will put accommodation hotels in a much better position.”

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said he was pleased with the outcome but that a recent submission outlined the desperate need not just for Chefs, but also for Housekeepers.

“There is currently a critical shortage of chefs and house keepers,” Long said.

L-R Dean Long, Accommodation Association and Michael Johnson, TAA

“The industry has been extensively advertising to permanent residents for these positions but with little success. The recognition of the importance of these roles and the addition of chefs to the Priority Skilled Migration Occupation List (PMSOL) is a positive step in addressing the skills shortage and challenges currently facing the sector.”

The PMSOL was developed in mid-2020 in conjunction with the National Skills Commission in an effort to enable industries to access foreign labour to ensure critical vacancies are filled and to help Australian businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sponsored workers can enter Australia for their new roles after completing mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense. Existing occupation lists will be maintained however priority will be given to those filling roles listed on the PMSOL.