Foodservice industry’s skill shortage

New Zealand’s Government has rejected calls from the industry to add restaurant and café managers to the nation’s Immediate Skills Shortage List. The Immediate Skills Shortage List is a regional measure that looks to identify whether there are skill shortages in any regions. If there is a shortage, people that fit the required skill set from overseas can apply for an Essential Skills Work Visa.

The debate over the restaurant and café managers position being on the list goes back and forth between the Government who are arguing that there needs to be more in place to encourage Kiwi’s to join the industry, and the industry, who are arguing that the problem lies elsewhere. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said that the Government’s figures showed “occupation replacement levels could be sufficient if industry terms and conditions of employment were attractive.”

According to Marisa Bidois, chief executive of the Restaurant Association, said that claims that the problem would be fixed should there simply be an increase in salary for restaurant and café managers was false. She said that this is just not an option for most hospitality businesses. “We understand what the Government is trying to achieve. We want to be able to hire more Kiwis as well—that very clearly comes through from the industry. The problem is there is a disconnect between that ideal and what’s actually happening.”

Iain Lees-Galloway, Immigration minister, said that the Government was looking towards a system that could meet labour demands without “reaching for immigration as the first resort.”

Lees-Galloway said, “Café and restaurant manager roles were declined due to a lack of evidence that effective training and retention strategies have been implemented by the industry to employ New Zealanders. This doesn’t mean they can’t employ migrants; it just means they have to satisfy a labour market test before recruiting migrants.”