The Department is working together with other government agencies to try to help address the shortage of workers in the Australian tourism and hospitality sectors. On 24 January 2012, we released a discussion paper asking for feedback on ideas for a template labour agreement that might meet the needs of Australian employers in these industries where standard immigration products like the 457 program aren't an option.
Tourism injects about $35 billion a year into the Australian economy but is looking at a shortfall of about 36 000 workers in jobs including experienced waiters, chefs, bar attendants and hotel managers.
A labour agreement is a formal contract between the Australian Government and an employer which provides flexible immigration solutions underpinned by strong integrity measures. Where a number of employers in the same industry are seeking to sponsor workers in the same occupations, we can look at developing an "industry template" labour agreement for all employers in that industry, provided that they meet a series of important requirements. These include a commitment to the employment and training of Australians, paying market salary rates above the temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT) and being able to demonstrate that there is a genuine need to employ overseas workers, having first exhausted all options to recruit Australians.
Before we can develop a template labour agreement, we ask for broad stakeholder input through consultations and discussion papers.
This discussion paper floats a range of questions to see what Australian employers in the tourism and hospitality sectors are really needing in terms of assistance in meeting their skilled and semi-skilled worker needs. We are asking for input on a range of topics including occupations, salaries, qualifications, English language ability, training, and risk mitigation.
There is a media release about this at: Minister for Immigration and Citizenship
You can view the discussion paper here: Tourism Labour Agreement Discussion Paper
There is an article about it in the Financial Review at: The Pub with no Aussies
The discussion paper is open for comment until 16 March 2012.