The Australian tourism industry is arguing that ten of thousands of low paid migrants should be allowed to work as waiters, kitchen hands and cooks to fill shortages.
They want to see visa restrictions and English language levels relaxed so that lower skilled migrants can fill positions in need.
Predicting that the job shortfall of 36,000 will balloon to 56,000 in four years, the tourism industry wants to maintain position like tour bus drivers, waiters, bartenders and casino workers. At the moment, skilled work visas require high English language levels and can only be employed in skilled jobs earning more than $49,000.
The average wage of a waiter is $33,800, which is why the jobs are hard to fill with Australian worker and why the industry feels it will face job shortages.
Relaxing language skills can give opportunity to foreign workers to improve as they go, as many restaurants don’t communicate in English anyway.
Restaurants and catering halls in Australia say the shortfall of workers should be filled by those on welfare and by immigrants. “Given the profile of available jobs, immigration may be a better long-term source of labour,” it said.
The tourism industry has gone as far as to say that foreigners on cheap wages are a better option than unemployed Australians. The long hours and low pay might be more tolerated by low skilled migrants, a feeling many industries, including the taxi industry believe to be valid.
Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said using visitors with Australian working holiday visa’s is one strategy the government is pursuing to address the problem. He said Prime Minister Julia Gillard had recently announced an increase in the number of working holiday visa arrivals from Indonesia.
“We are in the process of negotiating a range of other bilateral agreements with different countries to also enter into similar opportunities to bring additional holiday visa workers to Australia to assist, especially the tourism industry,” he told a tourism industry breakfast in Brisbane.