The 457 visa is no more. The Federal Government has brought the axe down on the controversial work visa for overseas visitors in Australia.
In its place will be a new two-tiered visa program, which will come saddled with higher restrictions and greater skills tests for migrant or travelling workers.
But what does this mean for the hospitality industry?
Of the 97,766 primary 457 visa holders in Australia last year, 15,260 worked in the accommodation and food services sectors alone, which means this news is going to have major ripple effects throughout the industry.
Food and beverage
There is already a shortfall of workers for jobs in the food industry, and that isn’t likely to get better anytime soon.
Industry body Restaurant and Catering Australia predicts that 160,000 jobs may go unfilled by 2020, with Restaurant and Catering SA deputy chief Sally Neville saying this shortfall would need to be met by overseas workers.
“Given we do not have adequate numbers in training, it’s clear that the industry will need to rely more on immigration to fill jobs,” she said.
Neville said that regional areas of Australia were already finding it more difficult to find workers than businesses in the urban regions.
“They just don’t have the steady stream of travellers or uni students to plug the shortfall,” she said.
Despite the accommodation industry’s heavy reliance on workers on a 457 visa, the Australian Hotels Association remains optimistic.
A spokesman said the changes presented an opportunity to leverage a more targeted approach towards getting migrant workers into hotel jobs.
“We will be happy to work with the Federal Government to ensure that their objective of growing local employment is met, while also encouraging growth in the hospitality sector through carefully-targeted temporary skilled worker placements, particularly to support regional Australia,” he said.
Travel and tourism
Regional tourism operators stand to be the most affected by this proposed change to the visa scheme, with 457 employees filling many roles they struggle to find locals willing to take on.
Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) chair Martin Ferguson said they would be pushing the government to ensure training is supplied for locals to fill the roles that could potentially be vacated by those previously on 457 visas.
“Once we have seen the full content of the government’s changes we will be making representations to relevant ministers to ensure that our industry—one of the country’s largest growth industries—receives the support it requires over the next five years,” he said.
“We are also seeking greater investment in training and development of local residents to ensure that we can offer world-class service standards to complement the massive transformation of the industry’s physical product.”
About the Author
Josh Alston is a versatile and experienced journalist, covering rounds for daily, regional and community newspapers that include; news, sport, politics, community issues and much more. In 12 years working as a journalist and editor, Mr Alston has covered major events like Federal elections, budgets, sporting events such as State of Origin and covered the economic and physical growth of Queensland. Today, Mr Alston is the founder of Art of Writing PR, generating topical and engaging copy for his clients to enhance their online presence and build their brands.