News & Blog

Australia’s Growing Shortage of Chefs and Cooks in the Hospitality Industry

Australia is currently experiencing one of the most intense skills shortages in decades.

While many of us immediately think of plumbers, electricians, and bricklayers when we hear such statements, one of the most effected industries at the moment is actually hospitality – more specifically, a shortage of chefs and cooks. Amongst new visa restrictions, growing demand and misconceptions of the industry by new entrants, established restaurateurs and hospitality professionals are fearing for the future of their enterprises. In this blog, we explore the reasons behind the shortages of chefs and cooks in Australia.

The Stats

Australia has never been more enamoured with dining-out culture as it is now. The industry is growing at a staggering 14% every year. Yet according to government statisticians, we will experience a 69% drop in workers across the tourism and hospitality industries, equating to over 123 000 jobs. This large dissonance between supply and demand is largely due to ailing apprenticeship figures. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research released data portraying a lagging entrance rate of apprenticeships, having decreased by 3%. What’s worse is that, of those who actually do undertake the course, a sizeable 16.1% drop out before completion.

Experts have offered a multitude of explanations for this drop in the industry.

Cultural Misconceptions

New entrants to the workforce are doing so with misconceptions about the hospitality industry. Emerging from a generation who believe securing a university degree is the best way to achieve a prosperous, long-term career, becoming a chef or waiter is simply perceived as something you do to keep the money flowing until deciding on what you ‘really want to do’. On this basis alone, many potential workers have decided not to pursue VET, and instead have gone to university without considering what it is they really desire from their future.

Chasing Fame & Fortune

There are, however, many young people who are inspired by the successes of celebrity chefs and wish to follow suit. The only problem is, once they are introduced to the real world of working in the industry, they are shocked to learn of the long, gruelling hours needed to refine their craft, with a less than attractive salary to go with it. For most, it is enough for them to call it quits.

Lack of International Workers

With the scrapping of 457 visas, international workers have been forced to all but leave the hospitality sector. Naturally, this is a big loss to establishments, not only losing their existing staff, but also with a lowered recruitment pool for future hiring.

Take Advantage of the Shortage

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Deloitte Access Economics’ Australian Tourism Labour Force Report 2015-2020

National Centre for Vocational Education Research